New Energy Plan Reveals Thailand Does Not Need Xayaburi Dam Or Other Forms Of Destructive Energy

Ame Trandem
Monday, April 30, 2012

For Immediate Release

NGOs Unveil New Energy Plan That Asserts Thailand Does Not Need Xayaburi Dam
Or Other Forms Of Destructive Energy

Bangkok, Thailand: Today, representatives from more than 130 civil society organizations have proposed a new Power Development Plan to Thailand’s policy makers and the public to chart a sustainable pathway to meet Thailand’s future energy needs. The plan shows that power from the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River, as well as proposed nuclear power plants, are not needed to meet Thailand’s future energy needs, and that investment in energy efficiency, renewables and co-generation could lower electricity bills for consumers by 12% by 2030 and avoid unnecessary investment of $60 billion (2 trillion baht).

The proposed Power Development Plan (PDP) 2012 and a Framework for Improving Accountability and Performance of Power Sector Planning was produced by Thai energy experts Chuenchom Sangasri Greacen and Dr. Chris Greacen. The plan was presented by Ms. Chuenchom Sangasri Greacen on Friday April 27, 2012 at a closed door meeting being held by Thailand’s Energy Regulatory Commission. Officials from the Ministry of Energy and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) were in the audience.

“Thailand’s energy planning process is in a state of crisis. Persistent over-forecasting of energy demand has led to over-investment and onerous economic burdens on consumers. Risky and environmentally unsound power plants are being built inside Thailand and neighboring countries, while safer, cleaner and cheaper alternative energy options are being disregarded,” said Ms. Greacen. “This new power plan identifies barriers and offers realistic energy solutions, which will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to Thailand.”

More than 130 civil society organizations have endorsed the plan and its policy recommendations, which will lead to more sustainable and cheaper alternatives than the energy choices determined in Thailand’s PDP 2010.

“This new Power Development Plan will revolutionize and modernize Thailand’s energy sector. It shows how we can protect the environment, while scrapping power projects like destructive dams, dirty coal and dangerous nuclear plans. The Plan also tackles issues such as energy affordability, climate change and energy security,” said Mr. Tara Buakamsri, Campaign Director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, one of the NGOs that has endorsed the plan. “We hope this report gives policymakers and business executives the knowledge and confidence needed to take smart steps forward.”

The report is being released only days after Thailand’s Ch. Karnchang Pcl. announced that it was building the Xayaburi Dam in Laos on the Mekong River despite a lack of regional agreement by the governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. “It’s clear that the electricity of the Xayaburi Dam is not needed in Thailand,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Country Coordinator for International Rivers. “Investing in energy efficiency measures and alternative energy could easily prevent Thailand from continuing down this dangerous path of environmentally and socially disastrous projects, like the Xayaburi Dam. Thailand’s energy authorities would be wise to cancel the Xayaburi Dam and begin implementing the solutions offered in this new Power Development Plan.”

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The report analyzed the Thai government’s current Power Development Plan (PDP 2010) and found that future power demand was overestimated by 13,200 megawatts (MW) over the next 20 years, the equivalent of 10 Xayaburi Dams. The authors also found that Thailand already has enough excess surplus capacity and projects in the pipeline such that no additional power plants or energy efficiency measures are needed until 2017.

The report’s authors came up with a more realistic demand forecast for 2030 by looking at historical trends over the past 25 years. They found that over the past 20 years, the Thai government's official electricity demand forecasts have consistently over-estimated future power demand, resulting in unnecessary investment and higher bills for consumers. After the demand forecast reduction, the authors found that the power sector still needs an additional 14,387 MW of power by 2030 in order to maintain a 15% reserve margin. The generation sources included in the PDP 2012 are as follows:

  • Projects already under construction and planned renewables and cogeneration are included. This does not include Xayaburi or any other additional imported hydropower.
  • Energy efficiency and demand side management at levels consistent with the Thai Government's 20-year Energy Efficiency Plan – equivalent to savings of 20% of total electricity consumption.
  • 4,800 MW of high-efficiency gas-fired cogeneration. A cogeneration plant utilizes not only the electricity but also the generated heat in industrial or commercial applications, thereby significantly increasing the plant’s efficiency. In contrast, the heat produced in a centralized power plant is typically wasted through cooling towers.
  • Extending the plant life for some existing power plants.

The authors found that the proposed PDP 2012 would result in reductions in carbon dioxide emissions on a per-capita basis of 7.7% by 2030 compared with a per-capita increase of 75% under the PDP 2010.