US resumes cooperation with Thai private sector
By THE NATION
USTDA acting director Thomas R Hardy
The United States has resumed collaboration with the Thai private sector in a move seen to counter China’s influence in the region.
The US Trade and Development Agency announced on Wednesday the reopening of its programme in Thailand with the goal of supporting the development of priority infrastructure projects in the energy, transportation, and telecommunications sectors, and helping to foster new commercial partnerships between the two countries.
The move is being seen by critics as an effort to counter Chinese influence. The Asian giant has invested in infrastructure projects, such as high-speed railways and major highways, in the region.
The US had cut close economic cooperation and aid to Thailand following the coup in 2014. It has now resumed collaboration after a new elected government took office.
“This is an important day for the USTDA, and we are proud to reopen our programme in Thailand,” said acting director Thomas R Hardy. “This is an ideal time to connect with new partners across the public and private sectors and advance quality infrastructure in support of Thailand’s development goals.”
To mark its reopening, the USTDA awarded a grant to Thailand-based renewable energy company Blue Solar to conduct a feasibility study on a solar photovoltaic power plant with an integrated energy storage system in Suphan Buri province. The project represents one of the first private sector deployments of utility-scale battery storage in Thailand.
Adequate and affordable power supply is critical to meet growing energy needs and drive economic growth in Thailand. Implementation of the project will support the kingdom’s goals to increase its clean energy mix, with new opportunities for US firms to supply solar and energy storage solutions.
The USTDA-funded study will help Blue Solar assess the project’s viability and deliver the designs and analysis required for financing and implementation. This partnership advances the US government’s AsiaEdge initiative to support sustainable and secure energy markets in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We are very grateful to the USTDA for providing a grant to support our project feasibility study,” said Blue Solar managing director Visait Hansaward. “It is our wish that our solar energy storage project will prove that clean energy can be reliable and our country can expect renewable energy to be a mainstream energy source in the near future.”
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