Egat mulls plants on army land

Egat mulls plants on army land

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) may start building new power plants on military bases to avoid confrontations with local communities and growing protest groups.

Deputy governor Ratanachai Namwong said the army had already offered several sites including Thanarat Infantry Camp in Prachuap Khiri Khan province as choices, as it considers electricity security a national priority.

The Royal Thai Navy and various state agencies are also considering offering some of their space if needed.

"It seems like no one wants any type of power plant built in their backyard," said Mr Ratanachai, who is in charge of power plant development.

He said electricity consumption was growing in line with the economy, and the level of installed electricity capacity might not keep pace.

"Look at peak electricity use in 2012, which was 26,348 megawatts, very close to total installed capacity of 34,084 MW," Mr Ratanachai said.

"Projections for 2030 show the peak could surge to 52,256 MW, drawing an appropriate level of installed capacity of 70,686 MW."

At least three old Egat power plants at Mae Moh in Lampang have been shut down, so it is crucial for the state agency to build new ones or purchase power from neighbouring countries.

"But it's risky to depend on buying power from foreign countries, as pricing may not be stable," Mr Ratanachai said.

The state agency plans to build two new coal-fired power plants in the South, in Krabi province and Songkhla's Thepha district.

But the proposed Krabi plant faces strong opposition from local residents and business groups, particularly tourism operators on Koh Lanta who fear the project could harm their business.

But Egat counters said four rounds of environmental and health impact assessments had been completed for the 1,800 MW-power plant and a deep-sea port to the satisfaction of local residents.

The state agency has assured residents it will use only sub-bituminous coal imported from Indonesia, a better grade than lignite. New technology installed will also contain hazardous residue to levels below what is required.

The Thepha plant, which will begin a second round of assessments early next month, has received a good response from residents following the start of the natural-gas-fired Chana 2 plant, also in Songkhla, in July, two months after the 770-MW Wang Noi Block 4 in Ayutthaya.

Mr Ratanachai expects the Krabi plant will start operating in 2019 and the Thepha plant in 2022.

To secure the power supply, Egat has drafted a 10-year development plan from 2015-24 adding 8,744 MW installed capacity at a cost of 100 billion baht.

Mr Ratanachai said besides investment in natural-gas- and coal-fired power plants, Egat would focus on renewable green energy to add another 1,884 MW.

A proposed 20-billion-baht infrastructure fund stemming from Egat's North Bangkok Block 2 in Nonthaburi province will be submitted for cabinet approval soon.

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