The government plans to open bids for an independent power producer programme, possibly in the coming year.
Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan said the new round would give a particular focus to coal-fired power plants because the country is too dependent on natural gas, which accounts for more than 70% of power generation.
The appropriate number of new power plants and capacity for the new bids are being studied by the ministry.
Mr Pichai said the ministry is revising the national power development plan (PDP) to incorporate existing plans such as the renewable energy development plan and the energy conservation plan.
The new draft PDP is expected within a month. The first national energy master plan would cover the country’s comprehensive energy development from 2012 to 2032.
In related news, the National Power Energy Council last Wednesday decided to delay further nuclear power development for another three years to 2026.
The previous government delayed the plan for three years to 2023 in the wake of Japan’s tsunami and subsequent radiation leaks.
The former PDP plan revised in 2010 called for nuclear energy to account for 11% of power generation by 2030, with lignite and imported coal making up 24%, natural gas 39%, purchases from neighbouring countries 20% and renewable energy 6%.
Natural gas now accounts for 72% of all fuel used in power generation in Thailand, followed by coal at 20%, domestic hydropower at 5% and imported power from Laos at 2%.
Thailand opened power production to private-sector participation for the first time in 1995 and again in 2006, under condition that the private sector share of production of not rise above 50%; the rest is provided by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).
Egat governor Sutat Patmasiriwat said the PDP was part of the government’s effort to cut dependence on natural gas in the power sector given its higher production cost.
Pachara Naripthaphan, an Energy Ministry spokesman, said new technologies such as clean coal would be welcome in the programme.