Government presents energy supply plan

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Sompop: Long-term contract

Thailand is unlikely to face the power shortages experienced by Vietnam and Sri Lanka, the energy ministry said on Saturday in a bid to allay fears the problem could also spread to Thailand.

State-owned Vietnam Electricity recently warned of power shortages due to limited coal supplies. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka announced daily 1 p.m. power cuts from Thursday after the South Asian nation said it was running out of hydropower due to fuel supply shortages.

Citing the results of a check with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), Sompop Pattanariyankool, spokesman for the Ministry of Energy, said Thailand had been awarded a contract to purchase coal in the long term to guarantee the supply of coal.

The spokesman did not specify the contract and who will supply the coal to Thailand. However, Indonesia, Australia and Russia exported the largest amounts of coal to Thailand in 2019, according to Greenpeace.

Additionally, he said the public is encouraged to use energy sparingly as prices for imports, such as natural gas, are steadily rising. The ministry hopes this will help ration energy stocks.

“Thailand still has high energy security,” Sompop said.

Witoon Permpongsacharoen, director of the Mekong Energy Ecology Network, said Thailand could be spared because of the way it purchases and reserves energy.

He said Vietnam and Sri Lanka have adopted the “Entrance Center Buyer” energy management system, which can be used in countries with good economy.

However, this will cause problems for others as the model lacks the flexibility required to deal with a changing energy situation.

“Egat depends 5% to 6% on hydroelectric power, 10% to 18% on lignite power and more than 60% on natural gas,” he said. “And because [our] hydroelectric power is imported from Laos, drought will not affect our hydroelectric supplies.

“Our problem will rather be a crushing debt [incurred from long-term energy purchasing contracts] that we will have to deal with in a long time,” he said. ” Despite [Thailand’s] already huge debts, we have not stopped making new contracts.”

In reality, Thailand has energy problems, but the country’s economic system is still able to cope, he said, adding that Egat has shifted the burden of energy costs onto consumers.

Unlike Thailand, Sri Lanka does not have enough foreign reserves to buy natural gas and generate electricity when it encounters hydropower generation problems, Witoon said.

Sri Lanka is also debt-strapped after borrowing funds from China under the Belt and Road Initiative, he said.

Egat has signed power purchase agreements lasting no less than 20 years, and this is hampering efforts to push the country to switch to renewable energy, he said.

Thailand has pre-purchased large energy supplies from private parties for its energy reserves, and half of those supplies have yet to be produced, he said.

“A power shortage won’t happen, but an oversupply will,” Witoon said. “And we have stranded costs to pay.”

Unlike Vietnam, Thailand is much less dependent on coal-generated electricity, he said.

The neighboring country has built a large number of coal-fired power plants over the past decade in what appears to be over-planning to facilitate economic growth, he said.

Initially, Vietnam aimed to rely equally on nuclear and coal-fired power plants, but since the country could not continue its nuclear projects, it turned to full support for coal-fired power plants.

Vietnam was once a coal-exporting country, but now relies on imported coal to supply its many power plants, he said. This shows how dependent the country has become on coal power, he said.

Meanwhile, Khomgrich Tantravanich, secretary general of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), said a new electricity tariff will take the price of electricity to an average of 4 baht per kilowatt hour from May. to August, it is expected to reach an average of 4.4 baht from September to December.

The move stems from huge cuts in natural gas off the Gulf of Thailand, forcing the kingdom to import expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the expiration of a gas production concession at the Thai gas field. Erawan, causing a delay in the exploration and production of new gases. , he said.

Thailand plans to import 4.5 million tonnes of LNG this year, or about 15% of the country’s total gas supply, according to the National Energy Policy Council.

The rise in LNG gas prices followed a rise in global oil prices, which began last year when many countries eased Covid-19 lockdown measures and resumed economic activities. Spot market LNG prices are about twice as high as gas prices in the Gulf of Thailand.

The ERC is working to avert a power shortage in the kingdom by using cheaper fuels to generate electricity to offset the increased fuel tariff, Khomgrich said.

One measure is to buy 400 megawatts of electricity from biomass power plants, he said.

“Saving energy and using it more efficiently will be the best solution,” Khomgrich said.

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