Consumers will have to pay twice as much for electricity by 2017 if power generation still relies on natural gas, and the options of nuclear or coal are not included in the National Energy Development Plan.
To rectify this, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is revising its power development plan and will propose it to the government soon. The revised plan will increase the number of coal-fired power plants by five with a combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts.
Egat has expressed concern that electricity fees will increase to Bt5 per unit within the next three to five years.
Currently, natural gas accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s total power production, followed by coal at 20 per cent and recycled energy the rest.
Egat governor Suwat Pattamasiriwat said yesterday that imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) cost more than gas from the Gulf of Thailand or imports from Myanmar, and demand would mean heavier reliance on more expensive sources of the fuel.
“The higher fuel cost will directly affect electricity charges, which will rapidly increase from Bt3 to Bt5 per unit within the next three to five years,” Suwat said.
He added that Thailand planned to reduce the utilisation of natural gas from the Gulf of Thailand while imports from Myanmar had also reached full capacity. As a result, the government will have to import gas from other, more expensive sources to serve rising demand for electricity.
Under Egat’s revised plan, five coal-fired plants generating 800MW each will be set up. The first project will be in 2019 as an expansion of the existing Krabi plant.
“If the government doesn’t want consumers to have to cope with higher electricity bills, it needs to set up more coal and hydropower plants,” Suwat said.He said coal should account for 30 per cent of the total cost of generating electricity. The government should also focus on zoning plans for coal power plants to facilitate their establishment.
Egat plans to invest Bt30 billion to set up a coal-fired plant to replace its Mae Moh facility in Lampang.