CKP weighs Thailand hydropower options

CKP weighs Thailand hydropower options

Contending projects located mostly in Laos

Mr Thanawat visiting the Xayaburi hydropower plant in Laos.
Mr Thanawat visiting the Xayaburi hydropower plant in Laos.

CK Power Plc (CKP), the power generation business arm of Ch Karnchang Plc, Thailand's second-largest construction firm, is conducting a feasibility study to select which of its three potential hydropower projects will be next in the queue to sell electricity to Thailand.

The contending projects are Pak Lay, with a potential capacity of 1,320 megawatts; Luang Prabang, with 1,410MW; and Pak Beng, with 1,230MW. The majority of the potential plants will be located on the upper Mekong River in Laos.

The selected project will be developed after the company's new Xayaburi hydropower plant is finalised, entailing investment of over 100 billion baht, excluding environmental protection management costs.

The proposed hydropower plants may have to wait more than 12 years before they start operations because of lower-than-expected Thai power demand. Slower economic growth may push reserve power capacity over 35% during 2019-23.

According to the 2015 national power development plan, companies have signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) or committed to developing 10 power plants with combined capacity of 16,144MW by 2025.

The new power capacity will include the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)'s five power plants, located in Krabi (800MW), Thepha district, Songkhla (2,000MW), southern Bangkok (2,600MW), Bang Pakong (1,300MW) and Wang Noi (2,600MW).

The five other power plants will be developed by private investors, including through a PPA scheduled to launch two Gulf Power Group units (5,000MW each) under an independent power producer auction the company entered in 2013. The rest are located in Laos and include a 1,285MW facility in Xayaburi, a 354MW plant in Xe Pian and a 270MW plant at Nam Ngiep 1.

Managing director Thanawat Trivisvavet said CK Power will open its Xayaburi hydropower plant in Laos in October of next year.

Asean's largest hydropower plant has a capacity of 1,285MW at peak time, or 7,400 gigawatt-hours per year. The facility represents an investment of 150 billion baht.

Mr Thanawat said the development is 89% complete and is expected to run its first electricity generating trial in Thailand at 175MW in October. Six additional trials will be conducted until the facility has its commercial opening date (COD) in October 2019.

Up to 95% of its power output will be sold in Thailand through Egat, and the remaining will be sold to state-owned Electricite du Laos (EdL). The company will sell power to Egat at two baht per unit.

Environmental protection development, including sediment routing, a fish-passing facility and fish-friendly power turbines, represent close to 20 billion baht of the project's cost, Mr Thanawat said.

Its concession is set to run for 31 years after the COD for the run-of-river dam. The dam will have one of the highest hydropower plant factors (or efficiency rates) in the country, with a yearly average of 64%, far ahead of the 20% that has become the norm in Thai industry.

The project was prepared from 2007 to 2012, with construction running from 2012 to 2019.

The development will require 4.2 million cubic metres of cement and 350,000 tonnes of steel.

Mr Thanawat said the project will be developed through a joint venture in which CKP will hold 30%, Natee Synergy Co 25%, EdL 20%, Egat 12.5% and Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc 7.5%.

According to the Mekong River Commission's 1995 tentative study on the hydropower potential of the Mekong, 10 more medium-to-large hydropower plants will be built with a combined capacity of 9,100MW in locations like Pak Beng, Luang Prabang and Pak Lay.

CK Power said its total revenue will climb 15% this year to 8 billion baht, up from 6.93 billion baht last year. Growth will be driven by the full operation of its small power producers and by its 120MW licence in Bang Pa-in.

The company is budgeting 1.7 billion baht for investment this year in its Xayaburi project, 400 million baht for its solar rooftop project at its construction materials factory and an additional 300 million baht for a feasibility study of a new hydropower plant.

CK Power expects to secure the rights to develop a new hydropower project by the middle of this year, Mr Thanawat said.

CKP shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 4.42 baht, down 22 satang, in trade worth 691 million baht.

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