'Energy for All' deals in sight at last

'Energy for All' deals in sight at last

Long-delayed plan on track: deputy PM

Workers feed garbage onto a conveyor belt at a biomass power plant in Samut Prakan province. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Workers feed garbage onto a conveyor belt at a biomass power plant in Samut Prakan province. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Energy officials expect to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) under the "Energy for All" renewable power scheme in March next year.

Energy for All, which allows private investors and communities to co-invest in power plants fuelled by renewable resources, has faced several delays for nearly a year, including challenges in modifying its conditions.

The National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) on Monday resolved to set 2021 as the scheme's first pilot year and agreed to kickstart a bidding process among participating investors early next year.

Public hearings will be held later next month ahead of the bidding process, said Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who is also the energy minister.

Under a new timeline, investors will be invited to join Energy for All in January and submit their proposals by the following month. Screening will then be carried out, with a final shortlist of company names to be completed in March, said Mr Supattanapong.

He expects power purchase agreements to be signed by the end of March and the new power to be available to consumers by 2024.

The NEPC on Monday approved the scheme to generate a total capacity of 150 megawatts -- half will be produced from biomass resources and half will be based on biogas. Each power plant will be allowed to use biomass to produce a maximum 6MW of electricity and no more than 3MW of biogas, Mr Supattanapong said.

Biomass and biogas fuels will be made up of 75% fast-growing plants like bamboos, napier grass and acacia plants as well as waste water and 25% agricultural refuse.

The Energy Regulatory Commission will oversee a bidding process in which investors will be invited to compete to offer the lowest power prices to the government.

Investors will be required to sign long-term contracts to buy bio-fuels from nearby communities because officials also want the scheme to relieve the financial stress inflicted on people by Covid-19, said Mr Supattanapong.

Communities will be also allowed to own 10% of the preferred shares in power plants.

Meanwhile, the NEPC has also approved a 6.5 billion-baht budget from the Energy Conservation Fund to drive the economy next year, most of which will go to renewable energy projects for agricultural purposes.

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