A COAL-FIRED power plant is urgently needed in Krabi to ensure power stability in the South and it is normal practice to initiate a bidding process to build such a plant before the |environment impact assessment is completed, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) claims.
Anuchart Palakawong Na Ayutthaya, head of environmental management for EGAT’s coal power plant project, said the move to find a builder for the new 800-megawatt plant in Krabi’s Nua Klong district before the EIA was completed would save time.
“We also held the bid before the EIA studies were done when we enlarged the Mae Moh power plant and the Phra Nakhon Nuea power plant,” he said. “I emphasise that this is totally legal and we will not sign any contract with the constructor who wins the bid process until we pass the EIA.”
Anuchart said it was necessary to build a new power plant in the South as the region was venerable to blackouts and power shortages. The South has five power plants that produce 1,568 megawatts in total, while the highest electricity usage in the region is 1,130 megawatts.
“The southern economy is expanding rapidly, so the need for electricity is higher every year. The existing power plants in the region are not enough for power consumption in the long term and the South is still reliant on electricity being sent from other parts of the country too,” he said.
“Despite what the opposition [those against the plant’s construction] claims, we are trying to ensure the growth of tourism in the South.”
He said Thailand relied on natural gas for 71 per cent of its power needs, while Thai sources of gas would be used up in a few years and more gas would have to be imported.
He said the country needed to change its pattern of energy production by reducing reliance on gas and using more coal because coal was cheaper and “clean” technology was now used to generate electricity from coal that cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 per cent.
Solar power ‘unstable’
“Everything has its good side and bad side. If we don’t use coal, what kind of alternative energy source can we use? The public will say no to another hydroelectricity dam. Oil is too expensive and we can’t rely on unstable power from wind or solar power. Coal is our best choice,” he claimed.
Anuchart argued that Thailand could also not rely on biomass for its energy needs because biomass power plants did not operate all year round as the palm crop was seasonal and sources used to generate power needed to be consistent.
In response to Thailand’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gases by seven to 20 per cent by 2020 and the impact the new plant would have on that, he said Thailand was not an industrialised country so it had |”wriggle room” with its greenhouse gas emission quota.
He said EGAT had many social responsibility projects aimed combating global climate change.