Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Engineering is undergoing a pilot run of its so-called Smart Grid project. The project's aim is to demonstrate that the use of electricity and energy in Thailand by consumers can be greater while maintaining power s
Also being tested under this project are charging stations for electrical vehicles (EV) in several provinces – and a virtual power plant, in which smaller power plants are remotely operated through computerised controls, said faculty dean Prof Bundhit Eua-arporn.
The Smart Grid project is in parallel with other operations of the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), under the Energy Ministry, which runs energy-related programmes. They include renewable energy and alternative energy sources, such as solar cells and power windmills.
The faculty works jointly with three electricity authorities – Metropolitan Electricity Authority, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and the Provincial Electricity Authority. The Smart Grid roadmap has been completed by the agencies now conducting the pilot run, through a CU technical seminar named after the late dean, Arun Sorathet.
Insecurity over energy supplies
Bundhit said the Smart Grid scheme had been prompted by insecurity in energy supplies, which would result in insufficient electricity production, and climate change, which would lead to greater consumption of power in the long run. The development under Smart Grid would also mean competition to power producers in the region and profits from businesses associated with it.
EPPO director-general Samerjai Suksumek said energy management in Thailand would from now on be run on a “doing more with less” principle, with the help of general and information technology, through two-way interface, on a basis of environmental friendliness and resources austerity.
Projects involving the Smart Grid would be accepted more by communities in locations where they’d been set up due to the smaller size of the plants and less discharge. At the same time, higher petrol prices and scarcer resources would make it more welcome by consumers in general, he added.
A senior EGAT official, Patthana Saengsriroj, said a Smart Grid pilot in Mae Hong Son which began last year was expected to be completed by next December, when the five agencies would jointly study and assess it. Once proven successful, it would be further developed into a national project, and later to the regional level.
A senior MEA official, Ratanarojana Thavisin, said a routine service had been upgraded in a new framework associated with Smart Grid, to boost efficiency of electricity distribution to the MEA services also in Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi, apart from Bangkok – the main area of MEA responsibility.
A deputy PEA governor, Suwat Chiewcharchai, said the Smart Grid under PEA responsibility was focused on further developing smart substations and expanding feeder automation to serve customers in the provinces, while helping develop charging stations for EV and Pattaya.
The charging stations are being built at another nine MEA offices, after the first station at the MEA headquarters in Bangkok’s Ploenchit area which is now serving both prototype and service MEA electrical vehicles, said Ratanarojana.