Energy officials have unveiled new conditions for the much-delayed Energy for All renewable power scheme, following a two-week revision ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow.
They expect to issue the first licence to participants in the project as early as this year, with construction to begin next year, said a source at the Energy Ministry who requested anonymity.
Officials revised Energy for All to support the government’s measures to relieve financial stress among people affected by Covid-19.
Among the changes is an increase in power generation capacity from 100 megawatts, as originally planned, to 150MW in the first year.
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Each power plant is to operate on 3MW of capacity.
Half of the 150MW of electricity will be produced from biomass, especially from fast-growing trees. Farm refuse is no longer described as a main fuel in the scheme, the source said.
The remaining 75MW will be generated by biogas.
The source said power plant operators will buy fuel from nearby registered communities, known as community enterprises, and share 10% of profit from electricity trade with them.
However, plant ownership between private investors and communities still has not been decided, the source said.
Other renewable resources such as solar and wind farms are no longer included in Energy for All.
State-owned power plants, power generation facilities subsidised by the government and those encountering legal disputes will also be excluded from the scheme.
According to the source, the new conditions will be forwarded to the National Energy Policy Council and the Energy Policy Administration Committee, chaired by Mr Supattanapong, for consideration.
The process to select participants based on bidding will be overseen by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Provincial Electricity Authority, the state power distribution arm, will sign power trade contracts with the selected operators.
Mr Supattanapong said earlier some conditions need to be rewritten because his ministry wants farmers who grow biofuels, not private investors, to gain directly from the scheme.
Echoing the minister’s intention, M.R. Warakorn Worawan, an adviser to a community in eastern Thailand, said benefit-sharing must be done in a fair manner and appropriate fuel prices must be set.
Prasert Sinsukprasert, chief of the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, expects to start inviting interested investors to join Energy for All this year.
Investment value is estimated at 12 billion baht.
UAC Global Plc chief executive Chatchaphol Prasopchoke said earlier the scheme received a warm welcome from many community leaders.
He said if the conditions for participation and business models are well designed, they will result in a good return for communities.
But many experts are concerned about the huge surplus of power generation capacity reserved, currently near 45%.
This concern led to the need to reduce power capacity under Energy for All during the first year. An appropriate power reserve is estimated at 20-25%.
UAC Global Plc, which owns two biogas-fired power plants in Khon Kaen, is ready to take part.