Pedaling for Clean Energy

Feature story - June 21, 2001
Greenpeace activists from Asia and Europe led by its new international director, Gerd Leipold, visited Prachuab Khiri Khan today and installed solar powered lighting systems in a local school in Bang Sapan district. Greenpeace showed its solidarity with the local people who have been opposed to coal plants and urged the Thai government to switch immediately to clean energy sources.

At least forty campaigners from Asian Greenpeace offices are at Ban Krut, Prachuab Khiri Khan, for an annual training and took the opportunity to lend support to the anti-coal campaign by conducting a bike rally and installing a 64-watt solar panel to promote clean energy.

Participants from the Ban Krut and Bor Nok communities joined Greenpeace activists and assembled at the Ban Krut railway station for the five-kilometer bike journey. The activists passed through community markets and fisherfolk villages. Bikes were decorated with flags bearing the message "Clean Energy Now!" and "Save Prachuab Khiri Khan" written in different languages. Along the way, leaflets about the impacts of coal plants were distributed. The rally concluded at Wat Thongchai Thammachak School where a 64 watt solar panel was installed and used to power part of the school's lighting system.

"We are here to support the community's campaign against coal-fired power plant projects. These types of power plants pollute communities, affect ecology and marine life, and destroy the livelihood of people. By installing this solar system we want to demonstrate the advantages of renewable energy and to show that it works. We join the community in emphasizing that they have choices other than coal," said Penrapee Noparumpa, energy campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Coal is the most carbon intensive among fossil fuels, and produces 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil, and 80 percent more than natural gas.

"Prachuab Khiri Khan is a beautiful place. Look around you and you see only the most pristine of environments. The last thing you need in this place is a polluting coal-fired power plant. We are committed to supporting community actions against this mega coal-fired power project," added Gerd Leipold, Greenpeace international executive director. "Our team is here to plan further action against the proposed coal plants. We want to help sustain the livelihood of the peoples of Prachuab."

Greenpeace is leaving the solar panel they installed to the school as an example of the viability of clean energy sources and as a scientific emonstration for students and community folk on the advantages of renewable energy.

"It is unimaginable how much money and time the government and financiers, both local and foreign, have wasted pursuing this project. We will persist in our campaign to stop potential banks, companies and export credit agencies from funding this project.These potential funders should instead invest in cleaner and environmentally friendlier projects such as solar, wind or biomass energy projects," Ms. Noparumpa added.

"The panel we installed here today is a symbol that clean energy alternatives exist. They are widely available. All that is needed is that investments are shifted from mega-projects towards modern renewable energy projects." Mr. Leipold concluded.