Thai junta halts coal-fired power plant plan

Thailand’s cabinet has halted plans to build a controversial coal-fired power plant in the southern Krabi province.   

On 22 November 2016, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, told media after a cabinet meeting that the government is halting plans to build the coal-fired power plant.
 
The government reached the decision after reconsidering complaints from Save Andaman from Coal, an environmental group campaigning against the coal-fired power plant.
 
The junta leader, however, said the regime has not ruled out plans to eventually build the power plant. It has just halted the plans for the time being. He added that local voices should be listened to if they agree or disagree with the plan.     
 
Areephong Phuchaum, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy, subsequently warned media that the halt of the project might result in energy shortages. To remedy this, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will resort to the relatively expensive process of generating energy from LNG gas instead.
 
Korasit Pakchotanon, the director of EGAT, added that the cost of electricity might rise by 5-6 per cent annually if authorities have to report to such costly means of producing it.
 
The controversial Thailand Power Development Plan 2015-2036 (PDP 2015) aims to increase power system reliability by reducing dependence on natural gas to generate power, increasing the use of coal via ‘clean coal technology’, importing power from neighbouring countries, and developing renewable energy.

Under the plan, the government will build more coal-fired power plants to cope with increasing domestic demands for electricity.

But for many environmental groups, such plans could affect local communities living next to the proposed coal-fired power plants, which could also cause irreversible environmental damage.