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Former Energy Minister Urges Free Trade in Thailand

Former Energy Minister Urges Free Trade in Thailand

Former energy minister Piyasvasti Amranand has called on the government to lift the 2,000- megawatt ceiling on the purchase of solar energy from the private sector and allow free trade to spur competition in Thailand.

In his speech on “Thailand’s Energy Crisis” organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism on Monday, he said the government should eradicate redundancy in the private sector’s applications for solar cell manufacturing, citing 600 pending requests for registration from small power producers which have a combined solar energy production of 4,000 MW.

If the obstacle is eliminated, an additional 1,000 MW of electricity will be produced and supplied into the system, he said, adding that the government should promote investment of roof-top solar cells.

With one million houses erected with solar cell system which produces two MW per house, Thailand will have 2,000 MW of power – a volume big enough to alleviate the electricity crisis, Mr Piyasvasti said. Advanced technology has successively reduced the production cost of solar energy, he said.

The former minister said solar farm investment is Bt70 million per MW, or Bt5-6 per unit while roof top investment is Bt95 million per MW which is close to the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG). In the next decade, the use of LNG to generate electricity will increase to 50 per cent of the total gas volume for power generating, he said.

Regarding the maintenance of the Yanada natural gas platform in Myanmar during April 5-14, Mr Piyasvasti said the Energy Ministry was well aware of the situation and power generating plants can substitute natural gas with diesel and bunker oil.

The electricity reserves are higher than in 1987 and a power blackout is avoidable, he said, asking why the energy minister raised the issue two months before the platform maintenance when he was aware of it for years.

Chomchuen Sa-ngarasi, assistant researcher on power system planning and energy policy, said the contract between PTT and Myanmar clearly states that PTT would get a 25 per cent rebate if Myanmar fails to supply natural gas to Thailand as agreed. She asked if PTT has asked for the rebate from the supplier and called on the Energy Regulatory Commission to inspect the company’s agreement with Myanmar.

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