Thailand Starts Up First of Two Giant 2.7-GW Natural Gas-Fired Combined Cycle Power Plants in Chonburi province

Construction News
Mitsubishi Power, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ power solutions brand, on Oct. 1, 2022, commenced operation of the fourth and final M701JAC unit at an ultra-large-scale natural gas-fired power plant in Chonburi Province, Thailand. The plant is owned by a joint venture of Gulf Energy Development PCL, one of the largest independent power producers in Thailand, and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Power

Thailand Starts Up First of Two Giant 2.7-GW Natural Gas-Fired Combined Cycle Power Plants in Chonburi province

Mitsubishi Power has declared complete a 2,650-MW natural gas–fired power plant in Chonburi province, Thailand, delivering its four M701JAC power trains to the plant’s joint owners Gulf Energy Development PCL, one of the largest independent power producers (IPPs) in Thailand, and Tokyo-based conglomerate Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

The Gulf SRC (GSRC) power plant, located about 130 kilometers (km) southeast of Bangkok, is the first gas-fired independent power project built by the two companies under their joint venture, Independent Power Development Co. (IPD). Gulf Energy Development holds a 70.0% equity interest in IPD, while Mitsui holds 30%. The first two 660-MW units at the GSRC plant went online in March 2021 and October 2021, respectively. The third and fourth units were completed this year despite COVID-related issues and supply chain constraints, said Mitsubishi Power, which delivered the plant under a full turnkey order.

Takashi Tozawa, deputy head of Energy Transition & Power Headquarters, and senior general manager, for the GTCC Business Division at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Power’s parent company, noted the project was also completed “without incident” and “according to the original contract schedule.”

Completion Achieved With 8,000 Actual Operating Hours

Each of GSRC’s four power trains comprises an M701JAC gas turbine, a steam turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, and a generator. “The first unit has already been in commercial operation for 1.5 years, the second unit for one year, and the third unit for six months—and all three boast high operating rates,” Mitsubishi Power said. “In September 2022, the M701JAC gas turbine of the first unit achieved 8,000 actual operating hours (AOH), establishing an industry benchmark of reliability.”

Construction is meanwhile underway at a second 2,650-MW M701JAC power plant, the Gulf PD (GPD) station, in Rayong province, about 176 km south of Bangkok. GSRC and GPD are a suite of independent power plants IPD was awarded in 2013. The GPD project in Rayong province is slated for completion in 2024, with Units 1 and 2 scheduled to come online in 2023. Both the giant IPD projects have 25-year power purchase agreements with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a state utility service enterprise managed by Thailand’s Ministry of Energy.

Thailand Bracing for Solid Power Demand Growth

The two projects are part of a wave of independent power projects Thailand is building to meet growing demand for power, which is projected to surge as the country’s economy grows driven by a flourishing export sector. According to the Ministry of Energy’s Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), electricity demand from EGAT has increased at a compound average growth rate of 2.5% over the past decade—from 148,855 GWh in 2011 to 190,468 GWh in 2021. Thailand’s most recent power development plan projects the country’s power consumption will reach 367,458 GWh in 2037.

Thailand’s total contracted power generation capacity as of November 2021 was 50,894 MW, 31.5% generated by EGAT, and 30% by IPPs. Thailand is looking to add 56,431 MW to meet future demand and replace retiring power plants. Most of this new capacity—20,766 MW—will come from renewables, but the country envisions at least 15,096 MW from combined cycle power plants.

While Thailand is an oil and natural gas producer, increasing gas demand from its power generation sector, industrial sector, and gas separation plants have pushed the country to ramp up the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) it imports. Gulf subsidiary Gulf LNG and an associate company HKH hold two of eight LNG shipper licenses issued by Thailand’s Energy Regulatory Commission. Gulf is also developing an LNG terminal, a project that it envisions will support Thailand in becoming a regional LNG hub.

It says these businesses will become a vital part of supplying fuel to Gulf’s power plants and strengthen the country’s energy security in the future. In total, Gulf operates, is building, or developing a 13.6-GW gas-fired power plant fleet. About 11 GW of that fleet are independent power plants in Thailand that will generate or sell power to EGAT.

“The company invests in the development, construction and operation of gas-fired power plants to support the growing electricity demand of the country, which is necessary for industrial and economic growth. Gas-fired power plant is a baseload power plant which can generate electricity steadily and continuously, and will be a bridge to the transition to a low-carbon society,” Gulf says.

The company notes it has a “No Coal” policy and is striving to increase its investment in renewable energy. It also “prioritizes that use of state-of-the-art technology to allow projects to operate at the highest efficiency,” it says.