Electricity agencies scramble to avert April blackouts, increase reserves
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is seeking cooperation from all parties in reducing power consumption to avoid a shortage in April while it attempts to shore up its reserve power supply by 291 megawatts.Its reserve is currently low because of the failure of two independent power plants (IPPs) to feed electricity to the system on schedule this year.
Egat deputy governor Thana Puttirungsri said the authority could secure additional reserve power of 291MW, of which 200MW would be purchased from Malaysia. It has also talked with four cement plants using an interruptible rate, which allows Egat to ask them to suspend operations. These are two Siam City Cement plants, one Thai Asahi, and one TPI Polene, for a total of 56MW. The power plants of Ratchaburi Power and Mitr Phol will also jointly boost their electricity capacity by 35MW.
Egat's power-generating capacity is normally 33,056MW, but that will be downgraded by 1,890MW as several power plants will not be able to generate electricity at full capacity, leaving only about 27,067MW for April 5, the first full day of a temporary gas-supply cut-off planned by Myanmar.
Peak power usage this year is projected at 26,300MW, leaving a "spinning reserve" of only 767MW, plus the additional 291MW Egat was able to secure, for a total reserve of about 1,058MW. That is still short of the required reserve of about 1,200MW.
Egat estimates that 86 million litres of bunker oil and 47 million litres of diesel fuel will be needed to generate electricity during the supply disruption from Myanmar's Yadana field, currently scheduled from April 5-21. If the disruption is extended by another one week, it would have to use 150 million litres of bunker oil and 80 million litres of diesel.
The Provincial Electricity Authority is preparing to launch several measures to prevent a power shortage in April. PEA governor Namchai Lorwattanatrakul said these included a campaign to get the industrial sector to avoid using electricity between 1pm and 7pm from April 5-13, another to get people to save energy in their homes and offices, and the preparation of 50 mobile generators with capacity of between 200 kilowatts an 1MW to station at key locations such as hospitals.
The country has never had an experience quite like this before. Previously, a gas pipeline from Myanmar was closed for repairs after being accidentally hit, but in the end there was no risk of a shortage. This was because the country had an electricity reserve of at least 10 per cent, following the global standard at the time. Now, however, its reserve is just 2 per cent.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has asked its members nationwide to adjust their production schedules in April to help the government save energy. It also asked the major steel producers to reschedule their machinery maintenance dates to April 5, which will help save a lot of power.
FTI vice chairman Chen Namchaisiri said the members were required to advise the federation by next Thursday how much electricity they could save, and that information would be forwarded to the Energy Ministry. He noted that the industries had a full month to implement these plans.