Thepha power station
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Thailand and coal|
Thepha power station (also known as Thepa power station) was a proposed 2,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Songkhla province, Thailand. Project plans included construction of a nearby deep sea port to import coal for the power station.
The coal power station is presumed cancelled as it may have been replaced by gas plans. However, the coal project is under Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and could still proceed.
The map below shows the location of Thepha district, the approximate location for the proposed plant.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)'s revised Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2012-2030 called for 4,400 MW to be produced from coal power plants by 2030. The first phase of the PDP called for the construction of the proposed 800 MW Krabi power station by 2019, and a 2,000 MW coal power plant in Songkhla's Thepha district by 2025.
As of late 2014, the Songkhla plan was at the public hearing stage, which was expected to be completed by the mid-2015.
In January 2016, the National Council for Peace and Order used Article 44 of the interim constitution to order an exemption to the city plan law for power plants and other industrial projects, which had been restricted to areas zoned for them on the city plan. Order 9/2559 was issued on March 7, 2016, with the intention of speeding up construction of the government’s public utility projects, including power plants. The order was issued by the prime minister, Gen Prayut, who seized power in May 2014. The order was seen as opening the way for the government to launch several controversial projects, Thepha power station and Krabi power station among them.
On February 3, 2018, Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said the Ministry planned to study plans for the Thepha and Krabi power station for an additional three years until the end of 2020, after which time policymakers would decide whether the two project sites were appropriate for fossil-fuel power generation.
In May 2018, the Energy Ministry walked back the postponement, saying it planned to immediately conduct a feasibility study for the Krabi and Thepha coal plants, which would take roughly five months to complete before being submitted to policymakers. According to the ministry's deputy permanent secretary Nantika Thangsuphanich, "The study will help determine whether the South should have more coal-fired power plants. If the answer is no, then policymakers will draw up a Plan B of alternative resources or power supply systems to generate electricity for the region."
Plans for the Thepha and Krabi power station were not included in the country's draft Power Development Plan 2018-2038. Instead, two 700 MW gas plants were planned for Surat Thani. Thailand director for Greenpeace Tara Buakamsri said "many people are suspicious as to whether the Krabi and Thepa plants are truly off the table, because Strategic Environmental Assessments on those projects are still continuing and those findings could be used to revive proposals for the two plants.”
In January 2020, it was reported that the Strategic Environmental Assessment Committee (SEA) was still assessing the need for a coal plant in the Songkhla area. The SEA planned to offer its assessment at the end of 2020, postponed from the earlier April 2020 target date.
In March 2020, after setting up a committee of several analysts from environmental, community impact, economic and project viability fields to study the issue, the Energy Ministry announced power station development may again be delayed until the end of 2020 because of the pandemic.
In August 2020, EGAT announced that it was planning to cut Thailand's power generation reserve from the current 40 percent to 15 percent to reduce the high costs of electricity. EGAT was proposing to decommission some older generation capacity, boosting power use in the agricultural sector and potentially increasing exports to Myanmar and Cambodia.
In July 2021, it was reported that government agencies were set to approve a 1,400-megawatt gas-fired power plant project in Surat Thani, replacing the highly contentious coal-fired power plant project.
As of February 2022, the project was described as "withdrawn" by EGAT. The power station is presumed cancelled.
Opposition & policing
In July 2015, the governor of Songkhla Province sent 1,500 troops and police along with a razor wire barrier to block a protest from nearing the building where a two-day public hearing on the project was being held. Only 60 pre-registered, mostly pro-plant citizens were allowed into the hearing.
The public hearing stage was declared completed on July 28, 2015. However, a few hours before the public review was completed, 300 people gathered nearby to voice their opposition. The protestors said the two-day public review was held under tight security, and that Songkhla Governor Thamrong Chareonkul banned unauthorised groups from gathering around the venue - a move that the opponents believe was an effort to keep out those who disagreed. After public hearing, the environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) entered its final stage. According to Egat, its consulting firm would compile the EHIA and submit it to relevant authorities, including the National Environment Board (NEB), to consider.
In February 2016, locals voiced concern that the plant would require relocation of about 240 families, plus two mosques, two Muslim cemeteries, a religious school, and a Buddhist temple. They also claimed that all three public hearings about the plant and its coal transport pier were not held properly. They called on the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning to stop consideration of the impact assessment.
After it was reported by Bangkok Post in January 2017 that bidding on the project had taken place, locals protested and said the bidding process was illegal since an EHIA had not been completed and approved. They planned to file a claim in administrative court.
In August 2017, the Bangkok Post reported that villagers have vowed to renew their sit-in protest in Bangkok against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s approval of the EHIA for the proposed plant. The plant would require the demolition of 250 houses, three mosques, a Bhuddist temple, an Islamic school as well as relocation of a cemetery. The villagers feared the proposed plant would further destabilise the region, which had long been wracked by violence between several insurgent groups and the Thai military.
In November 2017, an editorial in the Bangkok Post entitled "Time to listen in South" stated that the plant was "simply lacking legitimacy" and that "Thailand has an excess power reserve margin as a result of poor planning and there is no need for coal." The editorial urged the prime minister and his cabinet that "It is not too late for the government to listen to the voices of local people, especially those who may be badly affected by the coal-fired electricity project."
The February 2018 concession noted above followed a week of protests and a hunger strike, and came before demonstrators were set to march on the junta’s seat of power.
On April 2, 2021, the Songkhla Administrative Court dismissed a case involving villagers suing three agencies for violating their right to protest during actions related to the proposed plant. It appeared that villagers planned to appeal the verdict.
Greenpeace Thailand's website provides additional context on the project's delay.
If the plant is built, coal will be imported through a proposed deep sea port in Songkhla.
- Sponsor: Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
- Location: Thepha district, Songkhla Province
- Coordinates: 6.828333, 100.965 (approximate)
- Status: Cancelled
- Capacity: 2,200 MW (Units 1-2: 1,100 MW)
- Projected in service:
- Coal Type: Sub-bituminous coal
- Coal Source: Indonesia and South Africa
- Source of financing:
Articles and resources
- "Egat says more coal-fired power plants needed," Bangkok Post, November 24, 2014
- "Thailand Power Development Plan, 2015-2036," Thailand Ministry of Energy, May 2015
- "EGAT's Power Projects," EGAT website, accessed December 2016
- "Coal plants shelved for 3 years," Bangkok Post, February 3, 2018
- "Anti-coal groups protest against latest NCPO order," The Nation, January 27, 2016
- "Laying down the ‘dictator law’ for money," Bangkok Post, March 20, 2016
- "Coal plant in Thepa ‘would inflame the insurgency,’" The Nation, February 16, 2016
- "Policymakers to decide Krabi plant," PressReader - Bangkok Post, January 12, 2017
- "Govt Halts Coal Power Plant Plan, Protest Called Off," Khaosod English, February 20, 2018
- "Coal-fired plants back on agenda," Bangkok Post, May 16, 2018
- Draft of Power Development Plan 2018-2038, Energy Policy and Planning Office, December 2018
- "Power plan ‘a setback for sustainable energy’," The Nation, December 10, 2018
- [phttps://mgronline.com/business/detail/9630000000423 "โรงไฟฟ้าถ่านหินภาคใต้ยื้อต่อ นิด้าเลื่อนสรุปผลภาพรวมยาวไปสิ้นปี,"] mgronline.com, January 2, 2020
- "Pandemic chaos pushes plants back," Bangkok Post, March 25, 2020
- "Egat reining in power reserves," Bangkok Post, August 20, 2020
- "Gas-fired plant to get the nod," Bangkok Post, July 21, 2021
- "Thailand to replace coal-fired plants with gas-fired complex," Pinsent Mason, Out Law news, July 27, 2021
- "Energy Law in Southeast Asia," Tilleke & Gibbins, February 2022
- "Razor wire rings Thepha power plant hearing," Bangkok Post, July 27, 2015
- "'Thepha model' eyed for other power projects," The Nation, July 29, 2015
- "Activists slam Egat's coal bidding," PressReader - Bangkok Post, January 22, 2017
- Apinya Wipatayotin, "Residents stage sit-in over new coal plant," Bangkok Post, August 24, 2017
- "Time to listen in South," Bangkok Post, November 28, 2017
- "ศาลปกครอง ยกฟ้อง คดีชาวบ้านเทใจให้เทพา ฟ้อง 3 หน่วยงาน ละเมิดสลายการชุมนุม," matichon, April 2, 2021
- "โครงการโรงไฟฟ้าถ่านหินเทพา จังหวัดสงขลา," Greenpeace, accessed June 17, 2021
- "EGAT holds public hearing on Thepha coal power plant project in Songkhla," Pattaya Mail, 03 November 2014