BANGKOK: After a year of changes in the global and domestic energy market, Thailand can expect further challenges in the years ahead. Of these, the most crucial issues are the development of two coal-fired power plants in the South, the retirement of the Erawan and Bongkot gas blocks and the long-delayed 21st round of new concessions for 29 petroleum blocks. Energy experts and operators had initially hoped that the issues would be concluded by 2017 before the military government steps down. But final decisions appear to be a long way yet because of strong opposition from villagers in the case of the power plants, and from energy activists and non-governmental organisations on the concession issue. The urgency for additional power supply comes about as current electricity supply in the South is 2,225 megawatts, lower than the peak demand in the region for 2016 — 2,630MW recorded on April 18.
The biggest power users were the prominent tourist provinces, where power demand has grown by 5% each year: Phuket, Krabi, Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Songkhla. The issue of during the peak period was solved by transmitting more power from the central region. To meet the peak demand, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) had to develop more than 1,000 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines to transmit another 375MW of power to the region. In some years, Egat has had to seek power from neighbouring Malaysia via more than 500km of transmission lines.