National power plan expands private output

National power plan expands private output

Long-awaited scheme to take effect in Q2

Monks walk past a solar farm on their way to the temple after morning alms rounds. The latest version of a 20-year energy plan increases the importance of renewable energy. (File photo)
Monks walk past a solar farm on their way to the temple after morning alms rounds. The latest version of a 20-year energy plan increases the importance of renewable energy. (File photo)

After three years of revising and drawing up a new version of the power development plan (PDP), the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) has approved the plan for 2018-37, emphasising more participation from private companies in the country's power generation.

The new version is expected to take effect from the second quarter.

On Thursday the council, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, approved the PDP, which will be effective until 2037. The plan can be revised every five years as changes and technological trends occur in the power sector.

The plan reduces the proportion of power generated by the state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) from 35% in the previous version to 24%.

The new PDP sees policymakers plan for new power capacity of 56,431 megawatts, up from 46,090MW in 2017.

Of the planned new capacity, 20,766MW will be from renewable power projects.

Power plants with a total capacity of 25,310MW will be retired during 2018-37, so total power capacity by 2037 will stand at 77,211MW.

Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said non-fossil power will represent 35% of total power capacity by 2037, while coal-fired power plants will be reduced to 12%.

"We are very keen on renewable energy projects and energy conservation plans, while power imported from neighbouring countries is generated from hydropower," Mr Siri said, adding that Thailand will import 5,857MW by 2037, up from 3,528MW.

He said electricity fees during 2018-37 are estimated at 3.50-3.68 baht per kilowatt-hour or an average of 3.58 baht.

"The NEPC has ordered the Energy Ministry to hold talks with Laos and Cambodia regarding capacity and power prices if the two countries want to establish power plants and sell power to Thailand," Mr Siri said.

He said the NEPC also authorised the ministry and Egat to study grid development in a bid to maintain the power fee, purchase more renewable power in the future and increase the country's efficiency to become a centre of purchasing power in the region or a grid connection.

Egat and the Provincial Electricity Authority are required to develop a smart grid in the Eastern Economic Corridor in a bid to lower power fees to draw new investment flows.

The PDP also allows solar panels to be installed on private property and surplus power to be sold to Egat.

"Egat will purchase at least 100MW of solar power a year in the next 10 years, while the ministry will soon put the purchase plan into action," Mr Siri said.

The NEPC also approved the revision of purchasing power contracts with 25 small power producers (SPP) that are co-generation plants.

The SPP contracts expire over 2016-25 and will be extended.

The SPP purchase rate is 2.80 baht per unit for gas-fired power plants and 2.54 baht for coal-fired ones.

After the new PDP is enacted, four other plans will soon be drawn up and implemented: oil management, natural gas supply, alternative energy development, and energy savings and efficiency.

All five plans will be integrated in the energy blueprint under the country's energy reform plan.

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