The Government needs greater cooperation with the industrial sector and civil society in pushing for the establishment of more power plants for sufficient power reserves. It also intends to continue the energy-saving campaign.
Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People” on 6 April 2013, Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpisal underlined the importance of reserving enough power to ensure energy security for the nation’s economic drive.
He referred to the Government’s campaign to save energy from 5-14 April 2013 to boost power reserves, in order to cope with the disruption in natural gas supply from Myanmar because of the temporary shutdown of the Yadana gas field.
Mr. Pongsak said that, on 5 April, energy use in Thailand stood at 24,955 megawatts, against 26,600 megawatts anticipated earlier. This shows that the energy-saving campaign has received good cooperation from both the general public and the industrial sector. Out of the 1,700 megawatts saved, about 1,000 megawatts came from the industrial sector.
During this period, natural gas accounts for 65 percent of the fuel used in electricity generation in Thailand, a decline from 67 percent. However, he said, 65 percent is still relatively high, compared to less than 40 percent in most countries.
Mr. Pongsak said that Thailand’s power reserves during the Songkran period are likely to increase by 30 percent, as many factories would close and people would travel to the countryside, so electricity use during the period would fall. He would like the energy-saving campaign to continue after the supply of natural gas from Myanmar has resumed, since energy conservation would help save foreign currency that would be spent on natural gas imports.
In order to minimize impacts from a possible electricity shortage, as a result of disruption of the natural gas supply from Myanmar, six power plants in Thailand are now relying on diesel and bunker oil for electricity generation. Because of higher prices of diesel and bunker oil, people would pay more for electricity use.
Mr. Pongsak said that Thailand needs more power plants, even nuclear power plants, for its future, which would make it more competitive with other countries and a better choice for foreign investment. The Government must create better understanding among the public about the project to avoid opposition. He has instructed the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to set up an energy learning center. The project will be open to the public, who may come to learn and ask questions about energy.
In order to cope with opposition from the construction of more power plants, Mr. Pongsak stressed the need to educate the people, since production costs of electricity from various sources would affect their daily lives. In this regard, more public participation in the project must be emphasized.
He pointed out that related agencies needed to work together in formulating integrated plans to seek low-cost energy sources. A major seminar will be held in May 2013 to work out a long-term energy plan, which would take into consideration the growth of the country’s GDP, as well.