Wantana Somcharoenwattana, Business Development Manager, Wärtsilä Power Plants
April 15, 2014 | 4 Comments
Electricity generation today is moving towards a more decentralised model where generation is close to demand. Possible benefits are diminished transmission and distribution losses and investments, improved energy efficiency, and increased security of supply. Implementing a large central power plant is extremely challenging in terms of site availability, as well as public concern about environmental issues.
Distributed generation (DG) offers opportunities that can overcome these issues. Due to Thai government incentive schemes such as the feed-in tariff, DG will be more attractive for developers and investors going forward. DG development is therefore aiming at high penetration across the country. Small Power Producer (SPP) and Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) programmes are examples of success stories under the DG schemes. Both the SPP and VSPP programmes are implemented in order to promote primary energy savings and encourage the use of alternative energy in the power generation sector.
As of December 2013, the government has released SPP licences (power purchase agreements or PPAs) for 11,988 MW (129 projects) and VSPP licences for 3727 MW (888 projects), and more than 3250 MW are in the process of being licenced. Furthermore, future DG in Thailand will continue the growth that has allowed it to align with the country's power development plan and national policy, which increased the renewable energy target to 25 percent of generation in 2012.
The new power development plan (2013–2030) targets the addition of DG. New SPP cogeneration of 6347 MW and renewable energy generation of 13,937 MW are to be added to the system by 2030.
Power Generation Mix
Thailand's total power generation was 33,681 MW as of December 2013, which is 3.3 percent up from the previous year. Growth in power demand averages around 4 percent annually. Thailand's generation system consists of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a state-owned utility, at 45 percent; independent power producers (IPPs) at 38 percent; SPPs at 10 percent, and imported electricity at 7 percent. Power system planning is based on a long-term national power development plan (PDP). The PDP is implemented based on electricity demand growth rate, Thai GDP, government policy, a national energy efficiency development plan (EE plan) and an alternative energy development plan (AEDP).
The PDP2010 Rev3 (2012-2030) is currently in use, although the new PDP2014 (2013–2030) has been prepared and its approval is expected this year.
Under the current PDP2010 Rev3, new generation capacity of 55,130 MW is planned to replace the retired power plants (16,839 MW), which will result in a total national generation capacity of 70,686 MW at the end of 2030, as shown in Table 1.
The majority of new power plants are combined-cycle natural gas turbine (CCGT) plants, at 25,451 MW, and SPP cogeneration plants at 6476 MW.
However, the government is also focusing on promoting renewable energy in order to diversify the fuel type usage in the power sector. The renewable target was originally set at 9481 MW, but has been adjusted to 13,603 MW to be in line with the new Alternative Energy Development Plan, AEDP 2012–2021, as shown in Table 2.
The draft PDP 2014 (2013–2030), will retain the same complement of new natural gas plants — cogeneration, CCGT power plants and simple-cycle gas turbine plants. However, the major change from the previous PDP will be that renewable energy capacity will increase from 9481 MW to 13,603 MW.
In July 2013, the government approved the AEDP 2012–2021 to accelerate alternative energy consumption. The overall ratio of alternative energy will target a 25 percent share of total energy consumption in 2021. A breakdown of the contributions from different renewable energies to the power generation sector can be seen in Table 2.
According to this plan, biomass and biogas power plants will continue their development and are targeted at 4800 MW and 3600 MW respectively. However, solar power plants are currently a focus of the government promotion scheme, as solar projects currently show very little progress (550 MW in 2013) compared to government targets. The target for solar power plants is set at 3000 MW in the next 10 years. The government has initiated various programmes to stimulate solar projects across the country. Current solar support programmes from the government are:
1. Solar PV rooftop programme
The government has launched a special feed-in tariff (FiT) for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in order to encourage investment in the household, factory and small, medium and large enterprise sectors. The FiTs are supported for a 25-year period and are categorised according to installed capacity:
2. Solar PV for community (city) initiative programme
The government has encouraged community participation in renewable energy development via direct investment. An investment fund of THB60 million has been released to villages and communities in order to meet the solar PV community target of 800 MW. The project is aiming at 1 MW per village or community and will be supported for a 25-year period.
3. Solar PV programme for government buildings
The government will install rooftop solar PV for:
In addition to the special programme for solar PV, the government also has a core FiT scheme for all renewable energy. Table 3 presents the FiT rates that currently apply for renewable energy in SPP and VSPP schemes.