The Energy Ministry and the House of Representatives’ Energy Committee have expressed support for the establishment of a coal-fired power plant in Krabi using “clean” coal technology, in a move to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on imported natural gas for electricity production.
Energy Ministry permanent secretary Norkun Sitthiphong said the coal-fired plant was needed to ensure national energy security, as electricity generation had become too dependent on imported natural gas. Natural gas accounts for 70 per cent of the fuel used in Thailand’s electricity production.
He made the remark while on a study tour of the Isogo Thermal Power Plant of J Power in Yokohama, Japan, as part of a December 9-13 trip accompanied by senior ministry officials and members of the House Energy Committee.
As the amount of natural gas in the Gulf has gradually dried up, the country is in urgent need of other sources to generate electricity, such as coal and hydropower sources from Thailand’s neighbours. The Kingdom aims to reduce the country’s reliance on natural gas to 40 per cent of power-production sources.
According to the latest Power Development Plan, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) will set up five coal-fired plants, each with production capacity of 800 megawatts. The first plant is due to be up and running in Krabi in 2019.
The Energy Ministry and the House Energy Committee share a common view that the use of “clean” coal plant technology will not have a negative environmental impact and will be accepted by the communities near the plant.
The Isogo coal-fired power plant has two electricity-generating units, each with capacity of 600MW.
Chachoengsao province MP Boonlert Pailin, an adviser to the House committee, said that if the coal-fired plants to be built in Thailand adopt the same advanced technology as the Isogo plant, it would create confidence that the environment would not be harmed. This would create confidence among people living near the coal plant.
Energy Committee member and Krabi MP Sakorn Kiewkong believes that Krabi residents would accept the coal-fired plant if it deploys advanced technology to prevent possible negative impacts on the environment.
The plant could also be used as a model for constructing similar plants in other provinces in the South.
Egat deputy governor Surasak Supavititpatana said “clean” coal technology like that used at the Isogo plant required huge investment. Therefore, Egat would work out the cost of the electricity generated per unit and let people make a decision on the case.
Egat has held many public hearings with Krabi residents on the plan to set up the coal-fired plant.
The hearings are expected to be finished in the middle of next year.