More coal in the countrys power future

More coal in the countrys power future

Thailand will definitely commit to more coal-fired power plants in the future under plans outlined by electricity policymakers.

Three guidelines have been set for the national power development plan (PDP) from 2011 to 2021 and coal-fired power plants are included in all three, according to a source at the Energy Ministry.

The guidelines were prepared by a committee overseeing the PDP and power demand forecasts, chaired by Norkhun Sitthipong, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary.

The first guideline states that only coal-fired plants would be allowed to be constructed after 2014, the second states that both gas-turbine and coal-fired plants would be permitted after 2014, and the third calls for both gas-turbine and coal-fired plants to be built from 2016 to 2021.

The guidelines will be forwarded to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), the sole electricity buyer, which will assess the cost-efficiency of each option before making recommendations to the National Energy Policy Council. Egat’s conclusions, if approved, will be used as guidelines for bids for construction licences for new independent power producer (IPP) plants, scheduled in March.

More coal-fired plants will help diversify power generation away from natural gas, which is used to make 70% of the country’s electricity. But environmentalists and local communities tend to be hostile to coal-fired power developments, despite efforts by the industry to showcase new technology that greatly reduces emissions.

The ministry source said that the committee also had reduced projected power demand between 2011 and 2021 by 2,800 megawatts, reflecting the reduction of anticipated economic growth rates.

The new demand forecast of 46,000 MW was based on a downward revision of anticipated economic growth to an average of 4.8% per year from an earlier projection of 5.5% during the period.

Viraphol Jirapraditkul, director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said officials were now fine-tuning the PDP because of the revisions.

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