Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thailand seeks coal power

Italian-Thai ready to seek IPP business

POST REPORTERS

Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) is preparing to join the next bidding round for independent power producer (IPP) licences, with a focus on coal-fired electricity despite public resistance to the fuel because of its environmental impact.

The country's largest construction company said in a statement yesterday that it would propose a coal-fired power with a total capacity of 700 megawatts on the bank of the Bangpakong River.

The SET-listed contractor said it was being advised by a leading consulting firm in the field of coal utilisation.

If it received an IPP licence, ITD said that it would work closely with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and its London-based Clean Coal Centre (www.iea-coal.org.uk), to help ensure that the plant would have the lowest emission levels and the least environmental impact possible.

The company said it could achieve minimal environmental impact on the local community through the use of supercritical boiler technology. It said the advanced technology maximised efficiency and resulted in lower carbon dioxide emissions because less coal would be consumed. As well, dust and heat would be recycled within the plant.

ITD said it was currently negotiating with top global boiler manufacturers and premium-grade coal suppliers.

The projected emission reductions would entitle the plant to apply for CO2 credits based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

However, an ITD executive acknowledged that obtaining public acceptance, given that activists and communities had successfully stopped other coal-fired plants, would be the biggest challenge.

An Energy Ministry source estimated that a plant of the size proposed by ITD would cost almost US$700 million for construction and equipment.

The second round of IPP bids must be submitted by Oct 19. ITD recently set ITD Power Co to spearhead its diversification into the electricity business.

ITD holds a 15% stake in the Nam Theun 2 hydroelectricity project in Laos. Other shareholders are Thailand's Egco Group with 25%, Electricite{aac} du France with 35% and the Lao government with 25%. The 1,250 MW plant is scheduled to begin commercial operations in 2009.

ITD also has ventured into mining by acquiring the licence from Asia Pacific Potash Co to operate a potash mine in Udon Thani province. Operations could begin next year if community opposition can be overcome.

ITD shares closed yesterday on the SET at 7.60 baht, unchanged in trade worth 82 million baht.

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