Learning from the Bangkok E-Bus Programme

Interview with Mr Chatrapon Sripratum by Ms Patchaya Thanaudom.

Chatrapon Sripratum

Vice President Strategy Development and Investment Planning Department, Energy Absolute Public Company Limited

Energy Absolute Public Company Limited (EA) has a leading role in biodiesel, renewable energy (solar power plants and wind farms) and most recently in e-mobility: from a lithium-ion battery factory, an EV factory focused on commercial vehicles, to electric charging stations and own transport operations. It is implementing the Bangkok E-Bus Programme in Thailand.

How did the collaboration with the KliK Foundation come about?

It started with EA’s desire to manufacture commercial electric vehicles and to operate them ourselves. In order to create a business case with a high impact on society, we decided to focus on e-buses, which we believed to be the most important. However, the challenge we faced was that the cost of electric buses was relatively high compared to diesel buses.We thought about how we could close the gap and make the project feasible without burdening the public, as we didn’t want to increase ticket prices. We have had discussions with financial institutions and explored various options until we met with the Embassy of Switzerland, which drew our attention to the KliK Foundation.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of Article 6 cooperations?

This is a great development not just for Energy Absolute, but also for Thailand as a whole, because we have the opportunity to collaborate with Switzerland which, in my opinion, is a country with high standards in various aspects, such as work efficiency and transparency. From the points of view of the company and of the Thai government, working with Switzerland can ramp up our bilateral relations and the degree of seriousness about climate change. Furthermore, it can help elevate Thailand's standard related to carbon credit exchange.

What was EA’s role under Article 6 and the bilateral agreement mechanisms?

Negotiations started at government level. In this case, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand had to discuss the matter with its Swiss counterpart. The main framework for cooperation focuses on the transfer of carbon credits (ITMOs) between countries. This includes procedures and measures, such as how to avoid the double counting of carbon credits. You can think of it as a set of rules. It is very fortunate that the Thai government has been coordinating with us, Energy Absolute, which is the actual operator, to ensure that the implementation of the programme is in line with the established standards. They looked at the practical steps and saw whether implementation was possible, what the difficulties were, and whether it could be aligned with the criteria that had been set.

How were Thailand and Switzerland involved in the development of the E-Bus programme?

I must admit that it took a lot of time for both sides in the beginning because it was a completely new concept. The relevant agencies, whether Thai or Swiss, had to spend time fine-tuning and understanding different standards and regulations. However, one thing that was quite impressive was that all the parties involved really wanted to push this project forward and solve problems along the way. The Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, H.E. Mr Varawut, always says, ‘Thailand is not just talking and signing agreements, but we will really make it happen’.

«From the points of view of the company and of the Thai government, working with Switzerland can ramp up our bilateral relations and the degree of seriousness about climate change.»

What about the collaboration with the KliK Foundation?

Of course, EA is quite new to the subject compared to the KliK Foundation. They have provided us with various forms of support, including technical issues, reporting, and communication with the Swiss government to improve understanding. As this framework is new, communication is very important. We have had many online meetings between KliK, EA, and the Swiss government to better understand the project.

What would you like to share with future KliK project partners?

It is important to first study the information before assuming that it is too difficult or that there are many requirements that cannot be met. For EA, when we first started, we wondered if we could do it and if there would be many obstacles related to the governments on both sides and dealing with the private sector. However, we started working on it, solved problems along the way and discussed things when we got stuck. I think it will be easier for other projects, whether in Thailand or in other countries, because our Bangkok E-Bus Programme has already taken off. Those we have worked with, including KliK and the Swiss government, have gained experience in mobilising projects of this kind. This will make any future project easierin some ways. However, it's still important to discuss the requirements and regulations beforehand.