Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thailand's Booming Energy Demand

Thailand’s Booming Energy Demand Over the next 15 years, Thailand expects its electric power demand to increase by almost two and a half times. And as its power consumption grows, planners hope to use increasing amounts of nuclear and hydropower to lessen Thailand’s dependence on natural-gas fired generation.

The booming demand for power is evident from the recent numbers. In 2005, the nation’s peak power demand was about 20,500 megawatts, which grew by the relatively leisurely rate of 2.6 percent to about 21,000 MW in 2006. In 2007, however, demand jumped by 7.2 percent to about 22,600 MW. To keep pace with expected demand, Thailand is planning to more than double its current installed capacity of roughly 27,800 MW, to just over 58,000 MW by 2021.

The fuel mix will evolve over that period. Natural gas took a majority share at about 66 percent of fuel consumed in 2007 with lignite a distant second (about 12 percent), followed by imported coal (8 percent), hydro power (6 percent), fuel oil (5 percent), and renewables (1.5 percent). If the government’s current infrastructure plans are carried out, by 2021 natural gas will have shrunk to 63 percent and lignite to 5 percent. Meantime, picking up the slack will be hydro power (to reach about 10 percent), imported coal (10 percent), and additional purchases from small power producers, who will shift from a zero share to about 2.4 percent of fuel consumed. The standout increase, however, will be nuclear sources. They will go from zero to 9 percent, a jump that is scheduled to take place at lightning speed, between 2015 and 2021.

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