Thepha power station

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Thepha power station (also known as Thepa power station) was a proposed 2,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Songkhla province, Thailand. Project plans include construction of a nearby deep sea port to import coal for the power station.

Location

The map below shows the location of Thepha district, the approximate location for the proposed plant.

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Project description

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)'s revised Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2012-2030 calls for 4,400 megawatts to be produced from coal power plants by 2030. The first phase of the PDP calls for the construction of the proposed 800 MW Krabi power station by 2019, and a 2,000-megawatt coal power plant in Songkhla's Thepha district by 2025.[1]

The Thailand Power Development Plan for 2015-2035 forecasts that unit 1 will be operational in 2021, and unit 2 in 2024.[2][3] However, protests have delayed plans for the power station.[4]

Background on Plant

As of late 2014 the Songkhla plan was at the public hearing stage, which was expected to be completed by the mid-2015.[1] In July 2015 the governor of Songkhla Province sent 1500 troops and police along with a razor wire barrier to block a protest from nearing the building where a two-day public hearing on the project was being held. Only 60 pre-registered, mostly pro-plant citizens were allowed into the hearing.[5]

The public hearing stage was declared completed on July 28, 2015. However, a few hours before the public review was completed, 300 people gathered nearby to voice their opposition. The protestors said the two-day public review was held under tight security, and that Songkhla Governor Thamrong Chareonkul banned unauthorised groups from gathering around the venue - a move that the opponents believe was an effort to keep out those who disagreed. After public hearing, the environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) will enter its final stage. According to the Egat, its consulting firm will compile the EHIA and submit it for relevant authorities including the National Environment Board (NEB) to consider.[6]

In January 2016 the National Council for Peace and Order used Article 44 of the interim constitution to order an exemption to the city plan law for power plants and other industrial projects, which had been restricted to areas zoned for them on the city plan.[7] Order 9/2559 was issued on March 7, 2016, with the intention of speeding up construction of the government’s public utility projects, including power plants. The orders are issued by the prime minister, Gen Prayut, who seized power in May 2014. The order is seen as opening the way for the government to launch several controversial projects, among them Thepha power station and Krabi power station.[8]

In February 2016 locals voiced concern that the plant would require relocation of about 240 families, plus two mosques, two Muslim cemeteries, a religious school, and a Buddhist temple. They also claimed that all three public hearings about the plant and its coal transport pier were not held properly. They called on the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning to stop consideration of the impact assessment. The plant was reported to be 2,200 MW. Construction is planned to begin in 2017.[9]

In May to October 2016 the bid for the plant and port was opened, withn the winner expected to be announced in mid-2017.[10] After it was reported by Bangkok Post in January 2017 that bidding on the project had taken place, locals protested and said the bidding process was illegal since an EIA had not been completed and approved. They plan to file a claim in administrative court.[11]

In August 2017, the Bangkok Post reported that villagers have vowed to renew their sit-in protest in Bangkok against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s approval of the Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) for the proposed plant. The plant would require the demolition of 250 houses, three mosques, a Bhuddist temple, an Islamic school as well as relocation of a cemetery. The villagers fear the proposed plant will further destabilise the region, which has long been wracked by violence between several insurgent groups and the Thai military.[12]

In November 2017, an editorial in the Bangkok Post, entitled "Time to listen in South," stated that is "simply lacking legitimacy" and that "Thailand has an excess power reserve margin as a result of poor planning and there is no need for coal." The editorial urged the prime minister and his cabinet, stating, "It is not too late for the government to listen to the voices of local people, especially those who may be badly affected by the coal-fired electricity project."[13]

On February 3, 2018, Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said the Ministry planned to study plans for the Thepha and Krabi power station for an additional three years until the end of 2020, after which time policymakers will decide whether the two project sites are appropriate for fossil-fuel power generation.[4] The concession followed a week of protests and a hunger strike, and came before demonstrators were set to march on the junta’s seat of power.[14]

In May 2018, the Energy Ministry walked back the postponement, saying it planned to immediately conduct a feasibility study for the Krabi and Thepha coal plants, which would take roughly five months to complete before being submitted to policymakers. According to the ministry's deputy permanent secretary Nantika Thangsuphanich, "The study will help determine whether the South should have more coal-fired power plants. If the answer is no, then policymakers will draw up a Plan B of alternative resources or power supply systems to generate electricity for the region."[15]

Coal source

Coal would be imported through a proposed deep sea port in Songkhla.[16]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
  • Location: Thepha district, Songkhla Province
  • Coordinates: 6.828333, 100.965 (approximate)
  • Status: Shelved
  • Capacity: 2,200 MW (Units 1-2: 1,100 MW)
  • Type:
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type: Sub-bituminous coal
  • Coal Source: Indonesia and South Africa
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Egat says more coal-fired power plants needed," Nov 24, 2014
  2. "Thailand Power Development Plan, 2015-2036," Thailand Ministry of Energy, May 2015
  3. "EGAT's Power Projects," EGAT website, accessed December 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Coal plants shelved for 3 years," Bangkok Post, Feb 3, 2018
  5. "Razor wire rings Thepha power plant hearing," Bangkok Post, 27 Jul 2015
  6. "'Thepha model' eyed for other power projects," The Nation, July 29, 2015
  7. "Anti-coal groups protest against latest NCPO order," The Nation, January 27, 2016
  8. "Laying down the ‘dictator law’ for money," Bangkok Post, Mar 20, 2016
  9. "Coal plant in Thepa ‘would inflame the insurgency,’" The Nation, February 16, 2016
  10. "Policymakers to decide Krabi plant," PressReader - Bangkok Post, Jan 12, 2017
  11. "Activists slam Egat's coal bidding," PressReader - Bangkok Post, 2017-01-22
  12. Apinya Wipatayotin, "Residents stage sit-in over new coal plant," Bangkok Post, 24 August 2017
  13. "Time to listen in South," Bangkok Post, 28 November 2017
  14. "Govt Halts Coal Power Plant Plan, Protest Called Off," Khaosod English, Feb 20, 2018
  15. "Coal-fired plants back on agenda," Bangkok Post, May 16, 2018
  16. "EGAT holds public hearing on Thepha coal power plant project in Songkhla," Pattaya Mail, 03 November 2014

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