Energy for All postponed for upgrades

Energy for All postponed for upgrades

Napier grass is among the biofuels for renewable power plants under the Energy for All scheme.
Napier grass is among the biofuels for renewable power plants under the Energy for All scheme.

Authorities will delay the launch of the Energy for All renewable power scheme until next year, as they need to revise conditions and business models to support state attempts to boost the tepid economy and ensure fair benefit-sharing between villagers and investors, says Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow.

The scheme, which was introduced in 2019, allows qualified communities to co-invest in power plants and sell biofuels such as plants and farm refuse for electricity generation.

The first licence for plant operators was set to be issued by the end of this year. But with the new changes, permission is expected to be postponed to early next year.

Mr Supattanapong said yesterday that some conditions need to be reworked because his ministry wants farmers who grow biofuels, not private investors, to gain directly from the scheme.

Officials also want Energy for All to follow the government's policy to address the economic recession caused by the pandemic, by creating new jobs and investment.

"This project requires careful preparation and design because it involves many agencies," said Mr Supattanapong, who is also the energy minister. "It will take time before kicking off."

If 100 megawatts of electricity are produced under the scheme, 50,000-100,000 rai of land are needed to grow napier grass, a promising biofuel, he said.

Authorities are likely to increase the capacity in the first year to 150MW, not 100MW as stated in the original plan.

The ministry earlier intended to give communities co-investing in power plants 30% ownership. This was later reduced to 10%.

The plan may allow growers to sell biofuels at higher prices instead, said Prasert Sinsukprasert, director-general of the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency.

He said his department is in discussions with other agencies about the new conditions in order to form an updated version of Energy for All.

Mr Prasert expects some progress and the invitation of interested investors to join the scheme by year-end.

Licences for power plant development and operations will not be issued until next year.

Investment value is estimated at 12 billion baht, or 120 million baht per megawatt.

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