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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     10  October  2011                    

Small distillery receives Asean energy award

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Mae Bua See Community Enterprise, a small corn-based white spirits distiller in Lamphun, has been awarded the Asean Energy Award 2011 from developing biogas from wastewater produced by whiskey production and installing flat-plate solar collectors. The investment was 17 million baht (US$ 540 thousand), most of it coming from government support.

Mrs Boosaba is the general director of the group that runs the distillery in Mae Tuen in Li District of the northern province, which is famous for corn cultivation. Its green achievements have been recognised next to those of big names like Central Group, PTT Plc, Kasikornbank, Toshiba and Toyota.

The Asean Energy Award 2011 that the group won has become the talk of the town, and the distillery itself has become a role model and demonstration site for others to follow.

Unfortunately, Mrs Boosaba does not have enough money to travel to Brunei to collect her Asean prize. Even travelling to Bangkok on September 28 to receive the local prize was troublesome because of the flooding in the North.

Mrs Boosaba's liquor distillery began production in 2002 under the brand So Tiew Phai, using a traditional refining process for corn-based whiskey. But wastewater and a bad odor during the process were problems.

The enterprise attempted to mitigate the problem by using yeast as fertilizer for the corn, but the situation got worse as flies began to multiply, creating a new problem.

Sawad Sunanta, Mrs Boosaba's husband and the chairman of the enterprise, sought advice from the Energy Research and Development Institute (ERDI) at Chiang Mai University and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA). They provided technical help as well as partial funding.

A pond to compost wastewater of about 1,000 litres per day was built to produce biogas for cooking, which replaces cooking gas previously used in the amount of 43.2 tonnes a year. The project helps cut production costs by 810,000 baht (US$26 thousand) baht a year.

Flat-plate solar collectors were also installed in 2009. The 322 solar cells are used to generate hot water and were installed at the 40-rai factory with 30 percent of the construction budget offered by the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency.

The heat from the sun can produce water as hot as 75 degrees Celsius for about 20,000 litres a day to boil corn before fermenting into liquor.

The electricity bill of the enterprise was reduced from 20,000 baht per month to 3,000 to 4,000 baht, with electricity usage reduced by 286,000 units worth 1.03 million baht a year.

With hot water and methane available from biogas in the amount of 50 cubic meters per day, the enterprise's production capacity increases from 500 litres per day to 3,000 litres.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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