Thepha Coal Power Plant, Thailand

Strong local opposition by local inhabitants and by academics to a 2,200-megawatt coal-fired power station in Songkhla province, Thailand


Description

Thepha power station is a proposed 2,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Songkhla province, Thailand. Project plans include construction of a nearby deep sea port to import coal for the power station. [1]. As of late 2014 the Thepha plan was at the public hearing stage, which was expected to be completed by the mid-2015. The background is as follows [5]. The  Electricity  Generating  Authority  of  Thailand  (Egat) confirmed in 2014 that Thailand would build more coal -fired power plants to meet its energy needs since future supplies of natural gas are uncertain and renewable energy is expensive. Wiwat   Chancherngpanich,   Egat's   assistant   governor   for   power   plant   construction,  said [5] that Thailand  had  no  choice  other  than  coal  if  it  wants  to  strengthen energy production at a fair price because natural gas supplies are very  uncertain  since  Myanmar,  the  country's  main  supplier,  has  a  policy  to  reserve most natural gas for domestic use.  At  present,  68%  of  Thailand's  electricity  is  produced  from  natural  gas,  9%  from  coal  power  plants  and  the  rest  from  other  fossil  fuels  and  renewable  energy.  The plan calls  for  4,400  megawatts  to  be  produced  from coal  power  plants  by  2030.  This  would  increase  reliance  on  coal-fired  power  plants from providing 9% of energy consumption at present to 12% in 2030. The  first  phrase  of  the  plan  calls  for  the  construction  of  an  800-megawatt coal  power  plant  in  Krabi  by  2019 (discarded by 2017) and  a  2,200-megawatt  coal  power  plant  in Songkhla's Thepha district by 2025. Given  the  disastrous  environmental  and  public  health  experience  Thailand  had  with  the  Mae  Moh  lignite  power  plant  in  Lampang,  EGAT  understands the public's concern about the impact of coal power plants [5].Unlike the Mae Moh plant which uses lignite, EGAT says that the  Songkhla  plant  will  use  high-grade  sub-bituminous  coal  from  Indonesia  and  South  Africa,  together  with  high  technology  to  reduce  nitrogen  dioxide  and  sulphur  dioxide  particle  emissions  into  the atmosphere. [5]. Later, in July 2015 the governor of Songkhla Province sent 1500 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 Thepha project was being held. 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. [1] After public hearing, the environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) would enter its final stage.

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Basic Data
NameThepha Coal Power Plant, Thailand
CountryThailand
ProvinceSongkla province
SitePak Bang Subdistrict, Thepa District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat)'s revised Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2012-2030 calls for 4,400 megawatts to be produced from coal power plants by 2030. The first phase of the PDP calls for the construction of the proposed 800 MW Krabi power station by 2019, and a 2,200-megawatt coal power plant in Songkhla's Thepha district by 2025 fuelled by imported coal [1]. Project plans include construction of a nearby deep sea port to import coal for the power station. The Indonesian company Adaro Energy aims to penetrate deeper into the Thai market as it seeks to soon secure a long-term shipment contract with the Southeast Asian neighbor.

To generate more growth, the state has promoted tourism, as well as other development projects including deep-sea ports, special economic zones and industrial estates that will require much more energy. The protesters marching to Bangkok for a sit-in in August 2017 are categorised by the government as a minority who must remain voiceless -- even though they represent the majority of those in the farm sector. Not to mention the few hundred locals destined to lose their homes as they will be relocated if this project materialises. Government officials often brand coal protesters as "a minority," or "community outsiders". They paint a bad picture of environmentalists as "NGOs who get money from foreigners to ruin the country's opportunities".[3]
Project Area (in hectares)473
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesElectricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) (EGAT) from Thailand
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Thailand (civilian and military)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSouthernmost People's Network of Community Rights and Environment Safeguards for Peace.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Sit in in Bangkok's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
OtherMarine pollution (increase risk of spills from coal barges in the sea, destruction of marine ecosystem).
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherLoss of religious identity due to removal of significant religious places e.g. mosques and cemeteries.
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The conflict is ongoing. Construction has begun.
Sources and Materials
Links

[3] Going full steam ahead, Bangkok Post, 28 August 2017.
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[2] Songkhla power plant sit-in an energy wake-up call. Bangkok Post, 25 August 2017, Paritta Wangkiatt
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[4] The Nation, 26 May 2016. Army letter on Thepha power plant irks lecturers.
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Media Links

[1]Thepa power station is a proposed 2,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Songkhla province, Thailand. Project plans include construction of a nearby deep sea port to import coal for the power station.
[click to view]

[5] Bangkok Post Business, 24 Nov. 2014. EGAT announced new coal fired power plants.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Bangkok Post, Thanarak Kunton
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Meta Information
ContributorFaikham Harnnarong
Last update23/09/2017
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