Egat urges new power plant, Asean grid - Yuthana Praiwan - Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune

Egat urges new power plant, Asean grid

Jul 12, 2010 - Yuthana Praiwan - Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune

Power reserves for Thailand over the next five years may be at critical levels unless a new power plant can be built on schedule as described in the Power Development Plan, says the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Suthep Chimklai, director of the system planning division of Egat, said the latest protests by environmentalists in Chachoengsao resulted in the operators of two power plants -- Siam Energy Co and National Power Co -- deciding to change locations.

That means that the two gas-fired power plants would be delayed by at least one year to 2014 and 2015.

"We don't know if there will be protests at the new locations," said Mr Suthep. "It's another delay at a time when the domestic economy is picking up. I think our power reserves will be critically low."

The two gas-fired plants had a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts and are owned by Gulf Power JP. Mr Suthep said many coal-fired and nuclear plants needed to be built over the next 20 years to meet demand, and they are likely to face even more opposition.

Egat is planning alternatives such as buying more power from other countries.

Another plan is a pooled power facility and generation grid with other Asean members, he said after a meeting of top executives of Asean power utilities in Hua Hin on Thursday.

There are only six operating power transmission links between neighbouring countries such as Thailand-Malaysia, Thailand-Laos or Malaysia-Singapore. Seven new grids are being built now and two more are planned.

"Thailand could benefit from power grid links between countries in the region since Burma and Laos have plentiful fuel resources," said Mr Suthep.

"If this region can develop a power facility through a single system, it could maximise utilisation and save investment costs of US$788 million for 15 future power projects across the region," he added.

According to an Egat report, demand in the region will reach peak at 213,804 MW in 2025 and that figure could be reduced to 189,098 MW if a power grid could be pooled.

Thailand is the largest power consumer in the region, estimated at 24,000 MW this year, followed by Vietnam at 14,200 MW and Malaysia at 13,999 MW.

The possibility of the development of broadband and high-speed internet along with power transmission lines was discussed at the Hua Hin meeting as well, said Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul.

Asean members are building 16 interconnected power transmission networks, which are expected to be operational by 2015 -- when the Asean Economic Community, a single market, is to be formed -- and the fibre-optic lines could also be used for broadband and internet.