Egat seeks authority to build more power plants

Economy July 01, 2016 01:00

By PICHAYA CHANGSORN
THE NATION

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THE Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand will ask the energy regulator to allow it to build more renewable-power plants and to raise its power-generation proportion to half of the country’s total generating capacity, in a bid to strengthen nationa



In his first media conference since become Egat governor last month (June), Kornrasit Pakchotanon also revealed that the agency’s wholly owned subsidiary Egat International was negotiating to acquire stakes in a power plant abroad in a deal valued at about Bt10 billion.

Unlike other Egat subsidiaries such as Electricity Generating and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, which were set up with power-plant assets transferred from the parent company, Egat International does not have sufficient equity or asset backup, making it difficult to borrow or pursue project financing. Hence the planned acquisition, expected to be concluded in September, will help Egat International obtain a revenue-generating asset and thus gain more flexibility to pursue other overseas projects in the future, he said.

Kornrasit said Egat would hold discussions with the Energy Regulatory Commission on amending the national Power Development Plan to allow the state-owned power utility to increase its renewable-power projects from 560 megawatts to 1,000-2,000MW by 2036, and to increase its share of the country’s total generating capacity to 50 per cent by that time, up from 39 per cent stipulated in the current PDP.

“At present, Egat’s share is 37 per cent. This should be [increased to] 50 per cent to preserve security” of the electricity supply, he said.

Egat’s share of Thailand’s electricity generation has decreased over the years, as private power producers increased their role in the sector.

On renewable power, Kornrasit said Egat was looking to develop power plants running on biomass, as well as solar and wind-power projects.

Under its current investment plans, Egat will have to spend Bt670 billion over the next five years and Bt1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The investment sum will be increased if the regulators give their approval for it to take a larger share in the country’s power generation.

Kornrasit said Egat was also preparing to enter the liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) sector after the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) resolved last month to assign Egat to build a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to supply gas to its power plants and other users.

He stressed that the government’s objectives were not for Egat to maximise profit from the fuel business but to help lower cost of the national gas supply, since the agency’s projects are usually capped at a 5-per-cent return on invested capital.

The FSRU will have the capacity to receive and supply 5 million tonnes of LNG per year, of which 2.8 million tonnes will be sent to Egat’s South Bangkok Power Plant, the first of whose two new combined-cycle gas-turbine units is slated for commissioning in 2019.

The agency is studying how to make use of the remaining 2.2 million tonnes of LNG capacity, most of which could go to its North Bangkok Power Plants and the rest to other users.

Egat had originally proposed to build an FSRU with only 3 million tonnes’ capacity, but the NEPC ordered it to build the larger facility to help create competition in the gas-supply market, currently monopolised by PTT.

The supreme energy body has assigned Egat to present its revised feasibility study on the FSRU project back to the council within three and a half months.