By SOMCHAI SAMART
SONGKHLA OFFICIAL URGES CRITICS OF |COAL-FIRED PROJECT TO LISTEN TO ALL SIDES
THE SOUTHERN province of Songkhla – an “energy city” already earning Bt100 billion from its gas separation facility, power plants and oil rig sites – could also have potential for a coal-fired power plant, said Niphon Bunyamanee, president of the Songkhla Provincial Administration Organisation.
Niphon also said that if Songkhla was to be proved suitable for coal-fired power plants, the information should be studied and measures to prevent and minimise impacts put in place. “People should listen to all sides – especially environmental academics’ opinions – not just criticise based on one’s own feelings,” he said.
His comment was made following the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)’s declaration last week that the third public review session (July 27-28) on its coal-fired power plant and coal pier project in Songkhla’s Thepha district had been a success.
It had received support from most of those attending. Egat also planned to use the “Thepha model” for other projects in the future.
Niphon said that Songkhla might be suitable for a coal-fired power plant, as it already owned a gas separation plant, electric power plants as well as oil rigs around Koh Nu.
The province’s gas separation plant sold Bt35 billion worth of gas per year to Egat.
The gas was used in generating power at 600 megawatts (MW) per day resulting in another income of Bt45 billion, he said. About 20,000 barrels of oil were sold daily for an additional income of almost Bt30 billion a year. “So about Bt100 billion alone springs from energy produced through the process in Songkhla,” he said.
He predicted that, if combined with expected income from new power sources, the income figure could rise to Bt300 billion – or 30 per cent of the province’s GDP.
If constructed, the Thepha coal-fired power plant would be the biggest producing station in the South. Its two machines could produce a total of 2,200MW of electricity. If further combined with two machines in the Chana gas power plant, Songklha would have the capacity to produce 3,730MW – more than the South’s current electricity-generating capacity of 2,320MW.
Because the region’s demand for electricity was reportedly up to 2,450MW, they had obtained about 500MW from Central Thailand and even bought energy from neighbouring Malaysia occasionally during a crisis or a period of additional demand for electricity. Many believed that the establishment of the Thepha coal-fired power plant would not only solve the region’s power shortage – in which the region’s demand would rise by 5 per cent a year, according to Egat – but also create energy security too.
Songkhla Chamber of Commerce president Somporn Siriponanond concurred that the energy security was an important and essential matter. Somporn added that the establishment of a Thepha coal-fired power plant would rely on community decisions, although he personally agreed with the plan, which he believed would boost the region’s energy security. He said there would certainly be some impact, for which solutions should be sought.