Examining Measures and Directions towards Net Zero Emission in EEC Why is this Goal Realistic and Achievable

With the government’s effort to fully contribute to the reversal of climate change to achieve Carbon Neutral by 2050 and Net Zero Carbon Emission by 2065, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), one of the country’s most important economic, social and environmental development zones, has responded enthusiastically by focusing on 3 clusters including digital and 5G, intelligent logistics, and health and wellness by developing Bio-Circular-Green Economy model for investment and business approach. This is to enable the industrial sector within the EEC to achieve the goal of becoming a zero-carbon or zero greenhouse gas emission area.

From the beginning, the EEC has been focusing on developing the economy along with the environment. Therefore, they have requested assistance from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in their environmental missions in three areas: 1) assistance in sharing of technology and environmental knowledge in the EEC area, 2) development of new and old towns within the EEC based on the circular economy model to prevent wastewater from being released to the environment as well as reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and 3) efficient management of resources in the industrial areas by recycling waste or used products as much as possible.  

To achieve this ambitious goal, the EEC has encouraged and endorsed investment in a Green & Circular Economy. The short-term plan (for the year 2021 – 2026) aims for the industrial sector in the EEC to reduce carbon emissions by 10%, or about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2026, and generate more investment in the green and circular economy by 40%.

The concrete project at the moment is a clean energy procurement project in the EEC area. Currently, 30% of the total electricity demand in the EEC comes from solar energy. This first phase estimates the production of solar energy to be no less than 500 megawatts.

Another interesting project is the development project named “EV City Ban Chang” which aims to develop charging stations infrastructure for off-grid electric vehicles, service stations, and convenience stores. In 2021, 30 off-grid stations were built with the system that generates electricity from solar cells and is not connected to the distribution system of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority or the Provincial Electricity Authority, and 500 on-grid stations with the system that generates electricity from solar cells and connected to the distribution system of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Provincial Electricity Authority, or purchase electricity from the Electricity Authority. There will be 500 more stations available in 2022. This project will support the Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (Public Organization) in the design of planning systems, the creation of a carbon credit mechanism for emissions rights trading system, and a voluntary trading system in the carbon market between local operators to move forward towards becoming a truly Zero Carbon City.

At the same time, EEC has pushed for the generation of electricity from waste fuel (Rayong Model), which was completed in 2021, with the capacity to handle 500 tons of waste/day and can produce 10 megawatts of electricity. In the future, there is a plan to expand the electricity generation from waste to six more sites, covering 3 provinces in the EEC area (Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong). This will lead to the disposal of daily and accumulated waste up to 6,000 tons/day and generate up to 120 megawatts of electricity.

Fortunately, the net-zero goal is not only endorsed by the EEC authority but also embraced by industrial operators in the area, especially the largest operators who have invested almost 200 billion baht in the EEC such as the PTT Global Chemical PCL or GC Group who are moving towards this goal for a sustainable future. They have set a mid-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20% by 2030 with a budget of over US$1 billion, while the long-term plan is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The GC Group expects to reduce its carbon footprint in its portfolio and the entire value chain. They also encourage the reduction of greenhouse gases among their customers in order to create an environmentally friendly industrial ecosystem.

The Siam Cement Public Company Limited (SCG) has also announced a mission towards Net Zero, having invested more than 2,400 million baht since 2019 to set up a Map Ta Phut industrial waste disposal plant in Rayong province, with the most innovative technology in ASEAN and a capacity to dispose of up to 65,000 tons of waste.

Meanwhile, WHA Corporation Company Limited or WHA Group, a provider of turnkey logistics solutions and industrial estates, will also use electric trucks in the industrial estate to combat climate change as well as reduce logistics cost. They also collaborate with MG to provide electric vehicle charging stations in the industrial estates of WHA Group, which is in the EEC area.

Based on the development goals in the EEC area that extend from the former Eastern Seaboard, it is obvious that there have been many developments in every dimension. This raises concerns about whether history will repeat itself since the scars and environmental impacts of the Eastern Seaboard have not yet faded. However, with the clear measures and new projects that continue to be pushed forward, along with the full cooperation of every sector especially the industrial sector, it is expected that the goal to achieve Net Zero is not far from becoming a reality.