WATCHARAPONG THONGRUNG (THE NATION February 21, 2013 1:00 am)
The Energy Ministry should develop a risk-management procedure in parallel with its new Power Development Plan and should give the public a greater role in drafting the PDP, a scholar says. As well, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) says the country should raise its power reserve to 25 per cent from the 15 per cent |mandated in the existing PDP and purchase more energy from neighbouring countries.
These opinions were voiced at a seminar on the third version of the PDP 2010 held yesterday by the Senate’s energy committee.
Kasetsart University economics lecturer Decharat Sukkamnerd said the government needed to draw up a risk-management plan in parallel with the development of the PDP.
Such a plan would enable it to assign relevant agencies to deal with problems quickly, while determining who should take responsibility for crises such as the one that could occur in April, when gas supply from Myanmar will suspended temporarily.
He noted that the government had so far provided little opportunity for the public to participate in the PDP development, instead deciding for itself what should be in the plan before putting it to a public hearing.
“This approach should be changed to be more society-centric, with the people taking part in the plan’s development and jointly designing the PDP from the start to seek the best direction acceptable by all parties,” he said.
Mongkol Sakulkao, Egat deputy governor for policy and planning, said the country relied heavily on natural gas for electricity generation. Natural gas accounts for 70 per cent of the fuel sources for generating power, followed by coal at 17 per cent. He pointed out that heavy reliance on a single energy source brought great risk to national power security.
Some developed countries rely on coal for power production to a larger degree than Thailand. Coal accounts for 45 per cent of fuel sources for producing power in the United States, 34 per cent in South Korea, and 27 per cent in Japan. In China, the coal-use proportion is 79 per cent.
Mongkol added that the PDP should raise the electricity reserve above the current 15 per cent, perhaps as high as 25 per cent. If not, the country should increase the use of other sources than gas such as clean coal or purchase more electricity from its neighbours.
Bundhit Eua-arporn, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Energy Research Institute, said that if Thailand decided to opt out of nuclear power, it should consider using more clean-coal energy. The new PDP should also ensure sufficient availability of transmission lines and sufficient electricity supply.
Samerjai Suksumek, deputy director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said the government had offered the public chances to take part in the PDP development over the past five years. The ministry will also gather different opinions on development of the 2013 PDP, which is expected to be complete by midyear.
The Energy Ministry has suggested that the new PDP should increase the number of coal-fired power plants to total capacity of 10,000 megawatts, from 4,400MW in the existing plan.