Coal-fired power plant is listed in the National Power Development Plan 2015 - 2036 or PDP 2015, which is a master plan for national power generation that focuses on electrical power supply to meet significant requirements of national power development in the next 20 years. According to the plan, proportion of coal-fired power plant will be increased from 20% in the present to be 25% in year 2036. How significant is 5% increase of coal? And why is coal-fired power plant development very important in these days? Answers are as follows:

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          1. Why does it have to be coal?

          Currently, coal is used for 40% worldwide as major fuel for electricity generation. As volume of coal reserves can be used for 200 years while its price is stable and affordable, average price of electricity in Thailand will be reasonable. At present, coal-fired power plant’s latest technology is advanced, which is able to control pollutions better than volumes legally limited. Moreover, it can reduce air pollutions such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NOX) and carbon dioxide (CO2) better than former technology. In terms of engineering, coal-fired power plant with up-to-date clean technology such as ultra-supercritical is able to reduce CO2 for over than 33% comparing to coal-fired power plant with subcritical technology.

          Increasing proportion of coal for power generation can balance national energy because doing so means diversification of fuels. Thailand has currently used 65% of natural gas; thus, domestic gas reserves are available for only 6 - 7 years approximately. Imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) costs almost twice as much as domestic gas price. If LNG is still used for power generation, electricity price will become higher in the future. Based on the IHS Energy’s information regarding LNG and coal prices, it reports that as shale gas was founded in the USA, LNG price had decreased during the past 2 years. In 2016, LNG price became lowest; however, it will gradually increase in following years. Therefore, price of electricity generated from coal-fired power plant in 2021 - 2022 will be lower for 0.40 baht Satang per unit when compared to price of electricity from LNG power plant. Hence, electricity price for 1,000 megawatts generated from coal-fired power plant will be lower for Baht 3 billion per year.

          The coal-fired power plant is a base load power plant or a main plant that can provide 24 - hour supply of electricity. As a result, it causes stabilization of power system and power quality. Renewable power plant that uses renewable energy such as biomass (seasonal energy), solar power (available in day time only) and wind power (available during dawn/monsoonal season) is unable to continually supply electricity. In case that more of renewable power plants are needed, the base load power main plant is still necessary to ensure continued supply of power. In addition, Thailand must maintain appropriate electricity price to reinforce its competitiveness among ASEAN countries.

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          2. Krabi is important tourist attraction of Thailand. Why does EGAT propose to have coal-fired power plant constructed over there?

          EGAT has chosen Krabi as one of locations in southern region for power plant construction because coal-fired power plant can be constructed in area of an existing power plant that uses fuel oil to generate electricity for 315 megawatts. Moreover, without ditch dredging, coal can be shipped via carrier that requires the same deep water way and same shipping route of fuel oil transported to the existing power plant. Therefore, there will be no impact regarding power plant area usage and coal transportation.

          EGAT also considers having another power plant constructed in the southern region, which is the Thepa Power Plant. Furthermore, EGAT promotes renewable power plant construction in full scale to supply sufficient power and support economic growth in a long term.

          Based on present fact, although many coal – fired power plants are situated in important cities as well as in midst of national marine parks and communities, there is no impact occurred to their surroundings. Many countries of tourism such as Japan, Germany, Malaysia and South Korea are not affected by their coal-fired power plants as well. It is proved that this kind of power plant can be operated in midst of communities without causing impact on tourism. Moreover, number of tourists in some places even increase, for example, the Jimah Power Plant in Malaysia, which is located closely to the Strait of Malacca at estuary of Sungai Sepong Beson River, Negeri Sembilan, which is not very far from Kuala Lumpur. Its nearby area is fertile mangrove forest; a habitat of animals and source of fishes for fishery.

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          3. As reserve capacity is high, why does power plant have to be constructed urgently?

          EGAT has been complained quite often about reserve capacity forecast that is too high than its reality and higher than standard of 15%. The fact is 1) not every power plant is able to generate electricity with volume in line with its installed capacity; for example, old power plant, water power plant that can operate in some periods of time or power plant at Krabi that uses expensive fuel oil cannot be operated all the time because its fuel cost can affect and cause higher electricity price, and 2) exceeding reserve capacity is better than falling behind because it can withstand potential risks. For example, maximum volume of electricity consumption in 2016 became higher for 8% when compared to the previous year, or in an event that Myanmar suddenly stops its natural gas supply, power generating capacity will be decreased for 6,500 megawatts. Meanwhile, considering reserve capacity of foreign countries such as Germany and Malaysia, they are high at 150% and 50% respectively. Therefore, reserve capacity is depended on suitability and necessity of each country.

          In planning for national power generating capacity expansion, power system security shall be mainly considered to ensure sufficiency and continuation of power supply as well as to stabilize power system. Thus, suitable reserve margin must be concerned in which it has to be not less than 15% of peak demand in such year.

          Based on security compliance, power system must have sufficient capacity to accommodate cases of force majeure (N-1) when largest power plant stops operating. Chana power plant block 1, which is a large power plant in the southern region, is having generating capacity for 710 megawatts. Meanwhile, total generating capacity of all power plants in the South is 3,075 megawatts. Therefore, dependable generating capacity to accommodate emergency cases in present is equal to 2,365 megawatts (3,075 - 710 = 2,365). Nonetheless,during peak period in year 2016, power demand in the southern region was 2,713 megawatts. As itsdependable generating capacity is not sufficient for power demand, power from the central region is stillrequired to deliver via transmission system tothe southern part of Thailand.

          Hence, to reinforce power system security, especially in the southern part, new power plant is in need. It helps increase generating capacity as well as diversifying proportions of fuel suitably and avoids fuel risk exposure in long term, corresponding to national power policy. As a result, it will help reduce overall power production costs.

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          4. What is an environmental measure of coal-fired power plant project?

          Krabi and Thepa coal-fired power plants use imported high quality sub-bituminous coal or bituminous coal from oversea in which less of heavy metals such as lead with its highest ratio at 8 parts per million (in case of million pieces of coal, only 8 of them are contaminated by lead), mercury at 0.1 part per million, cadmium at 1 part per million and arsenic at 4 parts per million. Ultra-supercritical technology, which is currently developed to become best commercial technology, is applied with their combustion systems and steam boilers.

          The power plants’ pollutant control technologies include silicon controlled rectifier (SCR), extrasensory perception (ESP) and flue-gas desulfurization (FGD). These technologies can control pollutant emission for 3 times better than Thailand legal limits.

          In addition to trapping pollutants, this group of technologies can trap heavy metals as well. To enhance confidence, an activated carbon injection (ACI) is also applied to trap mercury after combustion. Of course, measurement of residue in nature, plants and animals will be taken over periods of their operations in accordance with relevant laws and agreements in report of environmental impact analysis.

          Coal will be imported from Indonesia or Australia by 10,000 - ton carriers to harbour for 1-2 times daily. To avoid fall and diffusion of coal as well as to reduce wave and sludge stirring, speed of carriers must not exceed 10 kilometers/hour. Moreover, coal transported by carrier will not affect diving spots and marine attractions because its shipping route is far from most diving spots for over 10 kilometers. Only 2 diving spots are close to the shipping route, which is around 4 - 6 kilometers.

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