By WATCHARAPONG THONGRUNG
THE Energy Ministry will make it a priority to help the public understand the country's need to set up more coal-fired power plants, deputy permanent secretary Twarath Sutabutr said.
He added that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed the mini
Twarath said the Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2015-36 focused on balancing energy sources and diversifying risk by increasing the number of coal-fuelled power plants.
He added that according to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, electricity remains cheap because of the existing coal-fired plants.
The cost of production by plants using imported coal is Bt2.14 per unit, while that of the lignite-coal plant in Hongsa, Laos, is Bt1.84, and that of the lignite plant in Mae Mo, Lampang, is Bt1.25.
Hydropower plants can produce electricity for Bt1.59 per unit, natural-gas plants Bt3.22, small power producers (SPPs) Bt3.39, and an alternative-energy plant Bt5.38 per unit.
If Thailand cannot increase the number of coal-fired plants, it will have to depend more and more on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).
According to the original 2015 PDP, the country would need 20 million tonnes of LNG per year through the end of the plan in 2036. If there are no new coal-fired plants, the country might have to import three times this LNG volume by 2036.
This would result in higher electricity prices, causing industrial companies to move their production bases to lower-cost neighbours, especially Vietnam, which uses coal-fuelled plants and is expected to build nuclear plants in the future.
According to the PDP, nine power plants using clean coal will be constructed with total production capacity of 7,365 megawatts.
If Thailand cannot achieve this plan, the electricity price is expected to rise to Bt6 per unit by 2036, according to Twarath.