Coal-fired plants, emissions targets to be decided shortly
The Nation 04 January 2017 | Pratch Rujivanarom
POWER ISSUES will be a major concern in this year, as the fate of the Krabi and Thepa coal-fired power plants will be determined and the quest to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions remains unfulfilled.
Power-plant development will be in focus in 2017, as the government solicits public opinion on the Krabi coal-fired power plant in January and the allowance for the Thepa coal-fired power plant by this year. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) will also continue to invest more in renewable energy.
Independent energy expert Prasart Meetam said this year would be momentous in defining the future of the two new coal-fired power plants in the South, after the projects had been delayed due to strong protests.
“We should focus on coal-fired power plant projects especially in Krabi and Songkhla, because these projects will cause pollution and burdens for local people, while the power reserves of the country was 39 per cent, which significantly surpassed the suggested level of 15 per cent,” Prasart said.
He said the government also planned to build waste-to-energy power plants across the country next year, which were a big concern in addition to the coal-fired plants.
“Our prime minister thinks the waste-to-energy power plants are the solution for both our energy and waste-management problems and the junta is moving forward with the plan to construct many waste-to-energy plants all over the country,” he said.
“This is huge problem because waste-to-energy plants are even dirtier than coal-fired power plants and the performance of such power plants in Thailand will be poor because most people in Thailand do not separate their trash.”
The energy expert was also concerned by Thailand’s promise at the Paris Climate Conference to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 to 25 per cent, while in reality the country increased emissions by 1.9 per cent.
The effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the energy sector will need to be closely monitored, he said.
He also encouraged authorities to support the installation of rooftop solar panels on residential buildings, which can generate up to 2,000 megawatts of clean power.
Egat governor Kornrasit Pakcho-tanon said this year Egat will focus more on renewable-energy development, which could reduce greenhouse-gas emission and mitigate climate change. However, he said coal-fired plants would still be necessary.
“We are going to negotiate with the Energy Ministry to increase the proportion of renewable energy to 2,000 megawatts in the Power Development Plan 2015 [PDP2015], as we understand that renewable energy will be the energy source of the future,” Kornrasit said.
“However, right now renewable technology is still not advanced and reliable enough to be a fundamental power source, so the coal-fired power plants are still needed to secure the power stability of the country.”
He said this year would be the final period to determine the fate of coal-fired power plants in the South, adding that the power stability of the region depended on the projects.
“Although we are planning to increase renewable energy, the South still needs fundamental power plants. If the Krabi coal-fired power plant is scrapped, Egat already has a plan B to build a new 4,000MW gas power plant in the South,” he said.
The Egat governor also urged the local people to show support for the coal-fired power plants to signal to the government to give the green light for the delayed projects, claiming that more people supported than opposed the construction of the plants.
Meanwhile, the Energy Ministry announced that the PDP2015 might be amended to cancel the Krabi coal-fired power plant due to the delays in the project, which would be replaced with new gas-powered plants.