Democrats urge use of LNG, palm oil for power plants

Democrats urge use of LNG, palm oil for power plants

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (right) and former deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij  outline the party's proposal to use LNG and palm oil to fuel power plants at the party's headquarters on Wednesday.(Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (right) and former deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij outline the party's proposal to use LNG and palm oil to fuel power plants at the party's headquarters on Wednesday.(Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The Democrat Party is championing the use of liquified natural gas (LNG) and palm oil to fuel two new power plants in the South, where there is stiff local opposition to the use of coal.

The party has argued its case in a proposal submitted to the government.

Details were revealed by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Korn Chatikavanij, a former deputy leader, at party headquarters on Wednesday.

The two voiced support for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has said he intends to find a solution to problems surrounding the building of a controversial coal-fired power plant in Krabi within two weeks.

Construction of the 800-megawatt plant has been postponed since 2015 amid repeated protests by local residents and environmental activists that finally forced the government to listen to their opinions.

The plant was due to begin commercial operation in December 2019. This has now been put back to some time in 2021. 

Mr Abhisit said the Democrat Party wants energy security in the South and believes the government should opt for a sustainable form of development in responding to the people's opinions.

The party had proposed that the government speed up construction of a companion power plant in Thepha district of Songkhla, but change the type of fuel from coal to LNG.  

At the same time, the government should order a feasibility study into using palm oil as an alternative to coal for the power plant in Krabi.

The government should also invest in related infrastructure to facilitate use of recyclable energy in the future.

Mr Abhisit said the party's proposal was intended to ensure energy security in the South, reduce the reliance on natural gas from the Gulf of Thailand and neighbouring countries, and avoid conflict and confrontation with the local people and environmentalists.

It would also lead to more use of recyclable energy in the future and this would be in line with the government's intention to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

As an added benefit, using LNG was less costly than coal, he said.

Mr Korn said he had submitted a letter to the prime minister explaining that the party supports the use of LNG because:

- LNG is a fuel which can be obtained from various production sources;

- The cost of producing electricity using LNG is lower than using coal;

- Building an LNG-fuelled plant costs about half as much as a coal-fired plant;

- It takes only 48 months to build an LNG-fuelled plant, compared to 80 months for a coal plant;

- Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) approval is required for the construction of a coal-fired plant, but an LNG plant requires only Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) approval; and

- Not using coal would strengthen the government's stance on reducing greenhouse effects.


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