Hybrid-renewable power bidding due
The bidding process for licences of up to 300 megawatts of power from hybrid-renewable resources is set to be launched in the second half of this year, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office (Eppo).
Eppo director-general Prasert Sinsukprasert said this falls under a scheme to grant licences to small power producers (SPPs), which generate 10-50MW of power from such resources.
It is also part of a broader move to switch the power purchasing agreement (PPA) for renewable energy from non-firm to firm contracts.
A firm PPA is a contract under which operators need to supply power as required by the Electricity Generating Authority to ensure the state enterprise gets the exact amount of energy specified in the contract.
The bidding will be held by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The hybrid-renewable power resources for each SPP will vary as renewable feed stocks differ by region. Rubber wood chips are found mostly in the South while paddy husks and other agriculture waste predominates in the Central and Northeast.
Mr Prasert said projects linked to biomass power are the most likely to win licences. Many sugar producers have already started building biomass power plants so they can bid for licences to profit from their bagasse, or the waste produced when sugar is made, he added.
Each plant could have more than one renewable-power resource to help it generate sustainable power and comply with the firm PPA, officials said.
The coming bids will constitute a second round with the first round held in April to grant licences to agricultural cooperatives.
The bidding process for licences to operate solar farms will take place on Saturday. The ERC will hand out licences to 27 operators for a total power-generating capacity of 172MW, leaving 50MW open for future bids, said Energy Minister Anataporn Karnjanarat.
However, many expect the commission to end up allocating the 50MW to hybrid-renewable power projects.
As a result, the days when operators relied on solar power alone could be over, with most of the renewable power to come from hybrid-feed stocks.
Meanwhile, Mr Prasert said Thailand's policymakers for energy are preparing for a possible disruption to natural gas production at the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area (JDA) in the Gulf of Thailand. Some of the infrastructure there has been hit by heavy storms, interfering with the supply of gas until July 12.
At least 300MW of capacity from one unit of the Chana gas-fired power plant in Sonkhla, a major power supplier for the southern region near the Malaysian border, is expected to be affected. Policymakers plan to use diesel until the problem is resolved.
They will temporarily turn to bunker oil to make up the power shortfall if a 100MW-capacity gas-fired power plant in Krabi is disrupted, officials said.
Another coal-fired power plant is due in Krabi but this has been delayed by two years while fresh environmental and health impact assessments are made. It is now expected to open in 2021 or 2022.
"If the [new] plant had not been delayed it could have been an ideal solution for situations like this when the supply of gas is disrupted," said Mr Prasert.
"This kind of thing actually happens quite a lot," he added.