EARTH Thailand

Power in South stable without Krabi plant: academics

The Nation 01 March 2017 | Pratch Rujivanarom

Short-term supply sufficient although annual growth set at 4%

ACADEMICS said yesterday that the southern region would still have stable power generation in the near future even without the proposed Krabi coal-fired power plant, although Thailand would have to invest in some form of new power generation in the long term.

Meanwhile, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) sent an official letter to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) on Monday asking the agency to comply with a prime ministerial order to conduct a new Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) regarding the Krabi plant.

Decharut Sukkumnoed, a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Kasetsart University, said the southern region still had enough power to meet demand even though the coal-fired plant project had been halted by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s order regarding the EHIA.

“We have to understand that the power demand can be categorised into three types: the fundamental demand for average daily power usage, the daily maximum demand for the highest power consumption per day, and the annual peak for the highest power demand in a year,” Decharut said.

The daily fundamental demand for the southern region is 1,800 megawatts, the daily maximum demand is 2,500MW, and the annual peak was 2,800MW, he said.

“The most frequently cited figure is the annual peak, which happens less than 5 per cent of the time in a year. If we compare the daily demand with the existed power plants in the South that can operate for 24 hours and generate 2,406MW, we can see that we have enough power,” he said.

“Even though the daily maximum power demand is slightly higher than the capacity of power plants, and we have the time of the annual peak, the South can rely on 304MW from biomass power plants and 627MW from Egat’s power plants that cannot operate year-round. This still does not count a spare 700MW from the Central region and 300MW from Malaysia.”

The South had power stability without the new coal-fired power plant, as the overall capacity was 4,337MW.

Kulyos Audomvongseree, Chulalongkorn University’s Energy Research Institute director, agreed that the South would have enough power capacity for the near future without the Krabi plant.

However, Kulyos said that due to the growing power demand of about 4 per cent per year, the South would still need a new power plant in the future.

“The South will need more power, so we have to start to consider now what is the energy that we will use in the future, because power plant development takes around five to seven years to complete. If we need more power for the next decade, we will have to start the project within the next few years,” he said.

He added that every kind of energy generation had its weaknesses, so planners had to carefully consider what kind of energy suited demands to ensure cheap and reliable electricity in the future.

After the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Prayut said he had already ordered the Energy Ministry and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to consider energy options, including what kind of energy should be used and what kinds other countries used.

“We will not talk only about coal-fired power plants or the conflict will start again, but we need a new power plant, so we have to make sure that the chosen energy is clean, safe and can ensure the country’s power stability,” Prayut said.

Regarding the EHIA study of the Krabi coal-fired power plant project, Prayut said he had already ordered relevant agencies to revoke the previous study and start the whole process again, which would include the participation of all stakeholders.

Egat governor Korasit Pakchotanon said Egat was willing to comply and cancelled both the EHIA of the Krabi plant and the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project’s coal transporting port.

“We have acknowledged the official letter from ONEP and we are willing to comply with the order from the prime minister. We will comply with all EIA and EHIA instructions by ONEP and include proper public participation,” Korasit said.