Egat in a hurry to embrace 'clean coal'

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is ready to push for development of coal-fired power plants, saying depleting gas reserves will result in higher power tariffs unless other economical options are available.

Spokesman Pongdit Potejana said Egat and the Energy Ministry have agreed that a power plant fuelled by imported coal is the most suitable option for Thailand since "clean coal" technology can allegedly partially reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand are projected to last only another decade, leading to heavy reliance on imported gas in the years to come.

"This will affect the security of our power supply. Using imported liquefied natural gas, which costs double that of natural gas, will push power tariffs to rise," said Mr Pongdit.

"The most appropriate solution is to find other fuels such as coal as a substitute for gas. These fuels should make the power system more sustainable with low tariff rates."

Regarding the expected disruption from Myanmar gas supplies from April 4-12, Mr Pongdit said this could result in power outages, but Egat will do its best to limit the disruption.

Scheduled maintenance on the Yadana block in the Gulf of Martaban will stop 1.03 billion cubic feet per day of gas used for generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity. Power consumption is expected to peak at 26,500 MW at that time.

The shortage will affect power plants in Thailand's western region including those of Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and Tri Energy Co along with Egat's Wang Noi, North Bangkok and South Bangkok plants.

The utility has prepared eight measures to minimise the impact of the shortage including switching to power plants run on bunker oil and diesel. This plan will use 130 million more litres of bunker oil and 75 million more litres of diesel.

Egat will buy more electricity from small power producers and hydropower plants in Laos including the 600-MW Nam Ngum 2, the 960-MW Nam Theun, the 440-MW Nam Theun-Hin Bun and the 126-MW Huay Ho.