Green en­ergy goal raised to 30% of mix ‘with no hit on con­sumers’

The Nation - - BUSINESS -

RE­NEW­ABLE en­ergy will ac­count for 30 per cent of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion within 15 years – with no ex­tra cost to the peo­ple, En­ergy Min­is­ter Siri Ji­rapong­phan vowed yes­ter­day.

Siri, in an­nounc­ing the tar­get for green-sourced en­ergy, said the draft­ing of a pro­posal for a 300-me­gawatt biomass project in the three south­ern­most prov­inces ex­pe­dited – for com­ple­tion within two months – be­fore it is for­warded to the Na­tional En­ergy Pol­icy Coun­cil (NEPC).

Sir said the En­ergy Min­istry’s 15year tar­get to raise the raise the share of re­new­able en­ergy in the na­tional en­ergy mix would be achieved with­out any bur­den be­ing passed on to or­di­nary peo­ple. The elec­tric­ity cost will not be higher than the cur­rent whole­sale price range of Bt2.40-Bt2.50 per unit, the min­is­ter said.

The pro­mo­tion of re­new­able en­ergy is part of the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy to drive for­ward the econ­omy. Cur­rently, Thai­land uses about 10 per cent of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion from re­new­able sources - rang­ing from so­lar cells and wind tur­bines to biomass and bio­gas - with to­tal gen­er­a­tion of 45,000 megawatts.

Given what the gov­ern­ment de­scribes as a rel­a­tively com­pet­i­tive elec­tric­ity cost, it has a pol­icy to pro­mote elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion of about 250-300 megawatts from a biomass project in Pat­tani, Yala and Narathi­wat prov­inces. A fa­cil­ity in Yala will be the cen­tre of the gen­er­a­tion scheme as part of a plan to set up a re­gional elec­tric­ity sys­tem that will be built around a smart grid sys­tem un­der a new unit, the Re­gional Power Sys­tem (RPS).

A stake of 24.5 per cent in RPS will be held by the Elec­tric­ity Gen­er­at­ing Author­ity of Thai­land (Egat), with a stake of 24.5 per cent held by the Provin­cial Elec­tric­ity Author­ity and 51 per cent owned by com­mu­nity en­ter­prises.

Un­der the scheme, farm­ers will earn about Bt800 per tonne of wood to be sold. About 20 small power plants with ca­pac­ity of 9-10 megawatts are ex­pected to be scat­tered across the tar­get ar­eas. The elec­tric­ity cost is de­ter­mined at Bt3.40 per unit for sale to peo­ple.

This plan has been ex­pe­dited by Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha for com­ple­tion within two or three months be­fore for­ward­ing it to the NEPC for ap­proval.

In the mean­time, Egat, which will set up float­ing so­lar farms in large dams, will join with Siam Ce­ment Group (SCG) to test the sys­tem. Ini­tially, the author­ity found the po­ten­tial ca­pac­ity for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion to be about 1,000-2,000 megawatts, which boosted the min­istry’s con­fi­dence to in­crease the tar­get for re­new­able-sourced elec­tric­ity to 30 per cent of the to­tal within 15 years.

Ac­cord­ing to the new Power De­vel­op­ment Plan (PDP), which is be­ing pre­pared, if the elec­tric­ity cost of fos­sil fu­els is about Bt2.10-Bt2.20 per unit, the gov­ern­ment will be able to pur­chase elec­tric­ity in the or­der of 1,000-2,000 megawatts to sus­tain the sta­bil­ity of the elec­tric­ity sys­tem.

“In the next 10-15 years, a coal­fired power plant at Mae Moh will have passed its use and if there are no new power plants com­ing, or more elec­tric­ity im­ports, the coal-fired elec­tric­ity ca­pac­ity will be lower than 10 per cent,” Siri said. “That would be a level that is too low when com­pared other coun­tries, where coal-fired pro­duc­tion elec­tric­ity ac­counts for 30-40 per cent of to­tal elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity.”

There­fore, more coal-fired elec­tric­ity plants are needed un­der the PDP at proper lo­ca­tions with com­mu­nity ac­cep­tance and, by the end of this year, there may be cer­tain di­rec­tions is­sued for Thai­land’s coal-fired power plants, he said.

He in­sisted that there is no magic pill that can be used to sub­sidise fuel and en­ergy prices to lev­els below their costs.

Based on a global study, for ev­ery Bt1 of sub­sidy for en­ergy, Bt0.60Bt0.70 is for the ben­e­fit of bet­ter off peo­ple and Bt0.20-Bt0.30 is for poor peo­ple.

Siri said that the price of house­hold liq­ue­fied petroleum gas has been sus­tained at Bt363 per cylin­der in or­der to lessen the im­pact on peo­ple’s cost of liv­ing. The min­is­ter ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the Bt392-mil­lion LPG ac­count will be able to cope with a higher global LPG price within one month. If the ac­count de­pletes, the oil ac­count can be trans­ferred to help make ad­just­ments for the LPG price, he said.

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