Thailand and coal
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Thailand and coal|
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that while Thailand has some domestic lignite production it is a net importer of coal. Despite this, the significant expansion of Thailand's industrial production is stimulating proposals for major coal, hydro, nuclear and gas-fired power projects both within the country and under power purchase agreements from Burma, Laos, China and Cambodia.
- 1 Plans for power station boom time
- 2 Coal mining
- 3 Power Stations
- 4 Proposed plants
- 5 Citizen Action
- 6 Articles and resources
Plans for power station boom time
In its 2010-2030 power development plan, the government-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), the country's largest electricity utility, is arguing for a massive power station building program. With current installed capacity as of December 2009 of 29,212 MW and forecast plant retirements and expired power purchase agreements over the period of 17,671, EGAT argues that an additional 54,005 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity will be required by 2030. Greenpeace Southeast Asia's tally is that, based on the Thailand's Power Development Plan 2010, "at least nine coal-fired power plants totaling 8,400 MW in capacity are being proposed in Thailand."
Of the 21,564 MW of additional installed capacity that it argues will be needed in the first decade to 2020, EGAT proposes that it will itself build 4,582MW including an 800 megawatt "Clean Coal Thermal Power Plant" at an unspecified location. (Later in the plan EGAT refer it only as "New Southern Power Plant". Greenpeace reports that two districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat province "have been identified for coal projects under the Southern Seaboard Development Program of National Economic and Social Board (NESB)."
EGAT also proposes that a further 4,400 MW be sourced by power purchase agreements from independent power producers. Of the four selected bidders, 1200 megawatts would be supplied from coal-fired power stations. GHECO-One Company would is slated to supply 660MW by November 2011 and 540MW from the National Power Supply Company between November 2013 and March 2014.
On top of the additional generating capacity from its own new power stations and independent power producers, EGAT has grand plans to source 5,668MW from the neighbouring countries of Laos, Cambodia and Burma. Aside from a slew of hydro projects in Laos, the utility also plans to buy 1473 megawatts of power from the Hongsa power station in Laos, 369MW from the coal-fired Mai Khot power station in Burma and a further 1,650 MW from "unspecified projects."
The USGS reports that EGAT and "several coal mining companies owned and operated most of the county’s major coal exploration and mining businesses". It stated that in 2007 lignite production "decreased by 4.4% to 18.239 Mt from 19.071 Mt in 2006."
The USGS lists coal companies in Thailand as being:
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand which operates the Mae Moh coal mine in Lampang Province. This mine produces approximately 20 million tonnes.
Closed coal mines
In 2008 the Thai mining company Banpu closed its Lampang coal mine(LP-2) in Lampang Province and the Chiang Muan coal mine in Phayao Province. According to the USGS the combined production of these two mines in 2007 was approximately 3.4 million tonnes. On its website Banpu states that the two mines were closed in late 2008 "due to depletion of their coal reserves. These coal mines are now under rehabilitation stage."
The Lanna Lignite Public Company Ltd operated the Ban Pa Kha mine in Lamphun Province. This mine produced approximately 1 million tonnes of coal at its peak. The company states that in 1986 initial production was "less than 100,000 tons" but soon increased to over 1 million tons. However, faced with "continuously depleting domestic lignite coal reserves" the company changed tack and began investing in Indonesia coal projects. After the Ban Pa Kha mine closed when the deposit was exhausted, the company switched to importing coal from its Indonesian mines.
Existing coal power stations
Existing coal-fired power stations in Thailand include the:
- Map Ta Phut BLCP power station is a 1,400 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station which was financed by international public investment institutions;
- Mae Moh coal plant, which is located in Thailand’s northern region. Mae Moh started its operation in 1978 with a capacity of 75 MW, reaching a maximum capacity of 2,625 MW in 1996. More than 30,000 residents in the Mae Moh area have been displaced by the plant, and thousands have reportedly suffered from severe respiratory problems. The surrounding crops and farmlands were affected by air-born ash from the power plant, as well as by acid rain, which is attributed to sulfur dioxide released by the coal power plant, according to Greenpeace reports.
Thailand to build coal plants in Burma
- Dawei power station - According to 2011 conceptual plans of the Italian-Thai Development Public Company Ltd., which has been given a 60-year construction grant by the Burmese junta to establish a deep-sea port and industrial estates in Tavoy, Thailand will build a 4,000 megawatt (MW) Dawei coal-fired power plant—the largest in Southeast Asia—on the Maungmagan beach in Burma. The electricity generated by the power plant, which will be 100 percent owned by Thailand, will be used both for export to Thailand and to supply the electricity demand of new industrial estates in Tavoy.
- The Mai Khot power station, which is also referred to as Mong Kok, is a proposed 369 megawatt power station 40 kms north of Thailand’s Chiang Rai border in Burma, which has been proposed to be operated by the Thai company, Italian-Thai Development Plc. It is proposed that the power be exported to the Chiang Rai region of northern Thailand.
- Kawthoung power station is a proposed 6 megawatt power station. The Pa’O Youth Organisation report states that "no details available, yet the Thai company Saraburi Coal mines the nearby Maw Taung coal deposit."
Cancelled coal plants
- A proposed 800MW coal plant by the Thai government for Krabi was cancelled in March 2013. The cancellation followed a protest by 500 Krabi villagers on February 11 who claimed that a coal-fired plant in their area from 1964 to 1995 had left many of them with respiratory problems and cancer.
Proposed nuclear plant
The USGS reports that EGAT "invested $6 billion to build the country’s first nuclear powerplant. The nuclear plant would produce 4,000 megawatts of electricity as part of the nation’s long-term energy plan to cope with looming power shortages. Thailand currently relies on natural gas for 70% of its electricity generation; the remainder was supplied by coal, hydropower, and oil."
In February 2011, over 10,000 people formed a human chain to protest a coal plant proposed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) for Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.
On July 13, 2011, about 1,000 residents from three districts in Samut Sakhon blocked Rama II Road in Muang district of Samut Sakhon in protest against the persistent problem of air pollution blamed on the coal industry in the province. The protesters who live in Muang, Ban Phaeo, and Krathum Baen districts said they had been suffering from the coal dust and fumes caused by coal depots and separation factories in the province for over five years. They said they had begun protesting against this polluting industry since 2006, but the number of coal importers and factories simply had continued to rise.
There are five authorized coal importers and factories in Samut Sakhon, according to protesters, who said the businesses had been allowed to exist without a public hearing as required by the law. One common tactic found to have been used by the business operators to win approval by the authorities was to establish their polluting businesses and register their depots or factories as something else; three establishments were registered as concrete ports for loading and unloading fishery products and another for agricultural products. About 20 other businesses were registered as sellers of bituminous coal.
Protestors demanded a memorandum of understanding with the provincial administration office that the coal businesses stop operating immediately and agencies such as the Pollution Control Department step in to inspect the business establishments. Government officers said they would hold a meeting with the business operators and representatives of the protesters to discuss the problem.
On August 2, 2011, it was reported that police in Bangkok had arrested four men who allegedly admitted they were hired by a "coal transport firm" to kill the leader of a protest against coal shipments in Samut Sakhon. They were among six suspects accused of colluding to kill Thongnak Sawekchinda after he led about 1,000 villagers in a July 13, 2011 protest on Rama II Road, which caused Samut Sakhon governor Julapat Saengchan to temporarily suspend the operations of five coal companies in the province. The arrested suspects, who face murder charges, allegedly told police they had been hired by a Samut Sakhon "coal transport operator" for 150,000 baht to kill Thongnak since the protest had adversely affected its business. Investigators said they found clues that should lead to the mastermind's arrest. Meanwhile, the Central Administrative Court granted an injunction to temporarily halt all coal-related activities in tambon Tha Sai in Muang district and referred to a coal firm, Theknik Team (Thailand). The company management was handed a fine and a jail term by the Samut Sakhon Provincial Court after the Tha Sai tambon administration organisation complained to police in 2010 about its practices. However, the company has continued its operations and the protesters say the air and water in Samut Sakhon is being polluted as a result.
Articles and resources
- Lin Shi and Glenn J. Wallace, "The Mineral Industry of Thailand", September 2009.
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, "Summary of Thailand Power Development Plan", Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, April 2010. (Large pdf)
- Greenpeace Southeast Asia, "10,000-strong ‘human chain’ calls on Thai government to quit coal", Media release, February 24, 2011.
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, "Summary of Thailand Power Development Plan", Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, April 2010, page 19. (Large pdf)
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, "Summary of Thailand Power Development Plan", Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, April 2010, page 20. (Large pdf)
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, "Summary of Thailand Power Development Plan", Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, April 2010, page 21. (Large pdf)
- Banpu, "Coal Business", Banpu website, accessed May 2011.
- Lanna Resources, "Lanna Resources Public Company Limited", Lanna Resources Public Company Limited website, accessed May 2011.
- "Coal Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions since 1994", Appendix A in Foreclosing the Future: Coal, Climate and International Public Finance: Investment in coal-fired power plants hinders the fight against global warming, Environmental Defense, April 2009.
- "Thailand to Build Coal-Fired Power Plant in Burma" Thailand Construction News, March 3, 2011.
- "Thailand to Build Coal-Fired Power Plant in Burma" Thailand Construction News, March 3, 2011.
- Pa’O Youth Organisation, Poison Clouds: Lessons from Burma’s largest coal project at Tigyit, Pa’O Youth Organisation, January 2011. (Pdf)
- Kyaw Kha, "2,000 people report skin diseases from Tigyit coal mine" Mizima, Jan. 21, 2011.
- Kritsada Mueanhawong, "Greenpeace goes over the edge to protest Krabi coal plant," Phuket Gazette, March 25, 2013.
- "10,000 Thai Citizens Take Action for Clean Energy," It's Getting Hot in Here, February 25, 2011
- "Coal protest in Samut Sakhon" Bangkok Post, July 13, 2011.
- "Four held over death of coal protest leader: Police allege transport firm was behind killing" Bangkok Post, Aug. 2, 2011.
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