Pandemic chaos pushes plants back

Pandemic chaos pushes plants back

The development of two coal-fired power plants in two southern provinces may again be delayed until the end of this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan for the two plants has been postponed several times, primarily through 2014-17.

Yesterday the Energy Ministry made the announcement after setting up a committee of several analysts from environmental, community impact, economic and project viability fields to study the issue.

Nantika Thangsuphanich, director-general of the Energy Department and chairwoman of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), said the SEA study is nearly complete, but the pandemic has made moving forward difficult.

The study, which began last November, costs 50 million baht and was expected to take about five months to complete before being submitted to policymakers, who will then make a final decision.

"The study will help determine whether the South should have more coal-fired power plants," she said.

"If the answer is no, then policymakers will draw up alternative resources or power supply systems to generate electricity for the region."

The SEA study included experts from energy, transport, tourism, the environment, fisheries, marine science, hydrography, public health, engineering, city planning and law.

Positions are expected to be filled within the month.

Manoon Siriwan, an energy analyst, said the study should be open to community input.

There are two natural gas power plants in the South -- Chana in Songkhla and Khanom in Nakhon Sri Thammarat -- with a combined capacity of 2,406 megawatts.

There are also hydroelectric, biomass and wind plants with a combined capacity of 382MW in the region.

The two coal-fired power plants were expected to be developed and operated by Egat.

One was an 800MW plant planned for Krabi initially scheduled to begin commercial operations in 2019.

A 2,000MW plant in Thepha district, Songkhla, was targeted to launch some time in 2021-22.

The government estimated investment of more than 160 billion baht for the two plants.

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