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Hydro to Help Reduce Power Shortages in Thailand this April

Hydro to Help Reduce Power Shortages in Thailand this April

Additional water will be released from Vajiralongkorn dam in Kanchanaburi province in April to power extra hydro-electricity generation when gas supplies from Myanmar are disrupted for routine maintenance.

After discussions with the Royal Irrigation Department and other government agencies under the Water Monitoring Sub-committee, Kitti Tancharoen, assistant governor of the EGAT, said it was agreed that 35 million cubic metres a day would be discharged from the dam during the period April 5 to April 14, up from the 29 million cu/m planned discharge for agricultural purposes during the summer. The dam supplies a 300 MW hydro-electric power station with water.

In order to maintain the overall water discharge plan, the dam will reduce water discharge during periods of low demand, Mr Kitti said. Increasing hydro-electricity output from the dam is part of the plan to offset the shortfall of natural gas supplies from Yadana gas field during regular maintenance. The gas flow disruption falls at a time of high power consumption in Thailand due to the hot weather.

Mr Kitti said Vajiralongkorn dam currently holds about 74% of capacity with 3,152 million cu/m of usable water, so the discharge of more water over this period would not impact overall water management. Egat would alert people downstream to the additional discharge so they could prepare for higher water levels. The extra water would be released gradually to avoid damage to the river bank.

Thailand uses natural gas to fuel about 70% of electricity production. About 25% of the natural gas is supplied by Myanmar. A disruption of the gas supply would reduce electricity generation. The government has warned of possible blackouts, particularly on Friday April 5, the day the government projects electricity use will peak ahead of a long holiday.

As EGAT and the Energy Ministry warn of possible power shortages, industry representatives have announced plans to cope, as the biggest user of electricity. Members of the Federation of Thai Industries will meet next week to discuss measures to implement power saving plans in early April, FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsuthipol said on Friday. It had been agreed that manufacturers would temporarily halt production lines on Friday April 5 and would resume on April 7, he said.

Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said Egat plans to buy additional electricity from neighbouring countries, including Laos, and to boost output through hydro-electric, coal and bunker oil-fueled plants. The ministries of Energy and Interior, EGAT,  the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority will soon meet again to come up with a joint, detailed plan for electricity saving, he said.

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