Utilities talk up smart grid

Utilities talk up smart grid

Three electric utilities plan to develop a smart power grid nationwide at a cost of 150 billion baht through the year 2026 in a bid to enhance energy efficiency and reliability, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office.

Eppo secretary-general Samerjai Suksumek said the smart grid will focus on improving the quality of the whole chain — power generation, transmission and distribution — through the use of IT software and smart equipment.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is developing a pilot project in the northern province of Mae Hong Son, while the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is looking at its four service areas in Bangkok and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) has chosen Pattaya for its trial.

The pilot projects are expected to begin this year. By 2015, the smart grid system will be fully operational nationwide.

The grid will enhance the efficiency of power generation and cut electricity losses in the system.

The upshot will be a reduced financial burden for Egat in developing new power plants.

"The smart grid system will improve reliability of the system for renewable power plants and, in the later stage, solar power as well," Mr Samerjai said.

Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Engineering has been consulted on the smart grid project since 2012 and has just finished a feasibility study.

Suwat Chiochanchai, the PEA's deputy governor for planning and system development, said the first phase (2012-16) includes the pilot project in Pattaya at a total cost of 1.4 billion baht.

Elsewhere, micro grids are under construction in Mae Hong Son's Mae Sariang municipality at a cost of 320 million baht and on Koh Kut and Koh Mak for 225 million baht.

In the second phase (2017-21), the project will expand to more areas in the country and include items such as demand response, energy storage and a charger system for electric vehicles.

In the last phase (2022-26), the grid is expected to operate throughout Thailand and virtual power plants may be included, Mr Suwat said.

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