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Coal Plant Questioned
Can alternatives replace a coal-fired plant in Thailand? - One year ago,
no one in Thailand could give a qualified answer to this question.
The Thai-Danish Project has changed that and gave NGOs a unique experience of self-confidence.
Unique Experience - What happened?
• In March 1999, the grassroots members of the SENT network questioned the building of a 1,400-MW coal-fired power plant in southern Thailand, a project which was already under way.
• In May, 1999, an intensive 2-week workshop was arranged by OVE and ATA (see article on the previous page) for the SENT network members. Technical and economic analyses were done, including
assessments of environmental and employment-related aspects, of the power plant project and of potential sustainable alternatives. This work led in August, 1999 to publication of “Sustainable Energy Alternatives to the Coal-fired Power Plant under Construction at Prachuap Khiri Khan”.
Assumptions Proved Worthless
• At the same time, a press release was published: International energy experts recommend that the electricity authorities
responsible should cancel the contract with the consortium behind the planned coal-fired power plant. The analysis shows that an alternative solution consisting of:
- 1,000 MW of industrial CHP, (combined heat and power)
- 360 MW of electricity savings, and
- 40 MW of hydro-electric power
... could be achieved without any extra cost but with significant advantages in terms of the environment, employment, economics, foreign currency, and technological development.
This was assuming that the extra electricity supply capacity was necessary. In fact, the analysis showed that the expectations concerning developments in electricity consumption on which the contract had originally been based were now worthless owing to the debt crisis in Southeast Asia.
Media Attention - NGOs are Equal Partners
• The press release was accompanied by an invitation to attend a conference which attracted many representatives from the National Energy Policy Office (NEPO), the Electricity Authority of Thailand (EGAT), Union Power (the consortium behind the coal-fired power plant), government advisers, researchers, and other important stakeholders. The press attended the conference. ITV, Thailand’s only independent TV channel, subsequently transmitted a 1-hour programme including pictures of the conference and interviews with conference participants.
So, the whole issue received attention, on TV as well as in the daily newspapers and in monthly magazines.
The conference was in every respect a unique experience for all concerned. For the first time ever in Thailand, several of the traditional players in this field witnessed qualified NGOs support and defend their policies and studies based on the technical and financial conditions which they face on a daily basis.
Participating NGOs and local activists learnt what it was like to be welcomed as equal participants in an intense and focused debate.
Greenpeace Support
• In December, 1999, Greenpeace Nordic appeared on the scene. In a letter to the Scandinavian “Nordic Investment Bank” (NIB), Greenpeace Nordic used the earlier analysis to support its claim that NIB should reconsider its financial support for the plan to expand the power plant. The consortium behind the coal-fired power plant is 90% foreign-owned, including a 28% interest held by “Imatran Voima Oy” from Finland and underwritten by NIB. Interestingly, although it is virtually impossible to launch new coal-fired power plants in the Nordic countries, the industry and investment banks of these countries are still making great efforts to give coal-fired power a sound international foothold.
Keeping the Pressure
• The coal-fired power plant project at Prachuap Khiri Khan is virtually at a standstill at present, although this is not due to any formal decision. OVE and ATA will continue to join SENT in putting pressure on the political and financial decision-makers.
More information:

- Thai-Danish Cooperation on Sustainable Energy, Thai Energy & Environmental Office, Chanchai Limpiyakorn, Srilak Silapee, 2252 Mitraphap Road, Tambol Naimuang, Muang, Nakhon Ratchasima 30000, Thailand.
Ph: +66-44-282354/5, fax: +66-44-213700, e-mail:
- OVE, Danish Organization for Renewable Energy (OVE), Ejvin Beuse, Finn Tobiesen, Dannebrogsgade 8 A, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. Ph: +45 86 76 04 44, fax: +45 86 76 05 44, e-mail:,
- SENT, INFORSE regional coordinator, Decharut Sukkumnoed, Suphakij Nuntavorakarn, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10930, Thailand. Ph: +66-2-5613467 ext 110, fax: +66-2-9428047, e-mail:
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ISSUE #28 (981KB) 20 pages (2000-02-28)
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