Eppo eyes Myanmar power purchase MoU
Thailand is expected to renew an electricity purchasing agreement with Myanmar that expired in 2010, says the Energy Policy and Planning Office.
Director-general Chavalit Pichalai said the original memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in July 1997, with Myanmar agreeing to export power to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), gradually rising to 3,000 megawatts in 2010.
However, frequent political uncertainty and fluctuations in the economies of the two countries saw the 3,000-MW target missed despite both governments holding talks over the years to discuss ways of reaching it.
Mr Chavalit said energy policymakers would adjust some details of the previous agreement — for example, possibly raising the volume to be purchased from Myanmar to 10,000 MW.
In the previous one, output was to come from four hydroelectric plants on Myanmar's Salween River — Namkok (capacity of 42 MW), Hut Gyi (300 MW), Ta Sang (3,300 MW) and Kan Bauk (1,500 MW).
Thailand also signed an MoU with China in 1998 to purchase 3,000 MW of electricity by 2017 from that country's Jinghong hydropower plant, but no progress has been made.
The failure of that agreement is attributed to the massive investment required for 1,055 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines needed to transmit electricity from southern China to Lop Buri.
The private sector said apart from such high-capacity power-producing projects, investment in renewable energy was crucial to energy security.
It plans to propose the new energy minister raise the adder tariff for biomass power plant to one baht a kilowatt-hour from 30 satang per kWh now.
Pichai Tinsuntisuk, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries' renewable energy club, said the existing adder rate was too low for the return on investment.
The FTI estimates waste from food processing plants nationwide could be used to develop biomass and biogas plants to provide up to 1,000 MW more.
However, that would require at least 100 billion baht over the next two or three years.
"But if you encourage that investment, the domestic economy would benefit a lot, and Egat could save enough from the budget for new power plant investment," said Mr Pichai.
He said the FTI would also spin off biomass pellet production from waste into a new industry club from its current spot in the renewable energy club.
The move is aimed at tapping rising demand by East Asian governments for biopellets to generate electricity.
Thailand is one of the biggest biopellet production bases in the region, and demand is increasing constantly, Mr Pichai said.
Food processing production waste includes remnants from rice paddies, bagasse, palm oil, rubber trees, cassava, eucalyptus and coconuts.
Thailand exported 9,000 tonnes of biopellets last year, leaping to an estimated 100,000 tonnes this year from 50 production plants nationwide.
The FTI will meet with energy and agricultural policymakers about drafting a plan for this project.