It is based on the Map Ta Phut industrial estate in Rayongto, which is also a major power and steam purchaser. The PPA provides EGAT with a secure power supply at a low price of 1.44 baht (5.7 cents) per kWh, and is providing the sponsors with a secure return on investment with scope for gains from efficient generation.
Two 700MW units were delivered to the site by lead equipment supplier Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in October 2006 and February 2007. The site can accommodate three more 700MW units if required later.
Projected investment for the project was an estimated $1.3bn, requiring equity injections since 2003. The power delivery start date was postponed to October 2006 (phase one) and February 2007 (phase two), and then to the end of 2007.
FINANCE AND CONSTRUCTION
“Two 700MW units were delivered to the site by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in October 2006 and February 2007.”
The IPP consortium building the Map Ta Phut plant is called BLCP Power. The shareholders in that company are the Thai groups Banpu (which diversified into power generation in Thailand in the early 1990s) and Loxley, and the UK utility PowerGen. Each of these three companies has a 30% stake. The remaining 10% is held by mining group, RTZ-CRA, which supplies the plant with Australian coal. PowerGen act as plant operators.
The growth in demand for electrical power in Thailand was about 12% or 1,200MW/yr in the mid-1990s. Since then, Thailand’s economic crisis saw power consumption fall in 1998, the first decrease in over 30 years. EGAT has delayed its development plans, and plans to commission a series of private power plant projects were also put back.
The site was reclaimed from the sea because of space issues – there are so many surrounding oil refineries and chemical plants that there was no other room. The Map Ta Phut combined cycle cogeneration plant is owned by Cogeneration Public Company Limited (COCO), an IPP in Thailand.
The Fortum Group participated in equity in COCO until December 2000, providing consultancy services during feasibility study, project development and construction phases. The company also delivered the energy measurement and management systems.
ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THAILAND
As part of its conditions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for the complete restructuring of Thailand’s electricity industry. EGAT had to sell off all its power stations except its hydroelectric plant. It set up a private company, Electricity Generating plc (Egco), to operate two gas-fired power stations totalling 2,100MW. EGAT continues to own and operate Thailand’s national power transmission system and buys electricity from privatised and new private producers to supply to distributors and large customers.
Gas-fired stations account for about half of Thailand’s installed generating capacity and oil-fired power plants a further 20%. The kingdom’s remaining power capacity is provided by various hydroelectric and lignite-fired schemes.
“Commercial operation was expected in 2006, but this has been again delayed.”
In September 1997 the Thai government requested that the plant sponsors consider changing the fuel for the plant from coal to natural gas. They wanted to reduce the environmental effects on the area, which already had problems with air pollution from other close-by industries. This would have required a complete revision of contracts and the renegotiation of electricity price to EGAT, and would have added considerable expense and time delays.
Under the original plan, the project was to have come into service in 2000. BLCP finally began construction in July 2003, and it was estimated this would take about three years. Commercial operation was expected in 2006, but this has been again delayed.
Empower, which specialises in power plant training, won the contract to provide training for the operatives who will be working at Map Ta Phut. Two weeks of operator training for all 30 staff including shift managers and senior operations staff was followed by a two-week basic course for new operators. The initial training sessions were followed by four weeks of instruction using Empower’s ‘soft desk’ DCS simulator.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS OVER COAL-FIRED PLANT
There have been environmental actions against the plant, and against the industrial complex at Map Ta Phut industrial estate in general. Besides greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace pointed out that burning bituminous coal releases other atmospheric pollutants with severe health implications for the neighbouring populations. The Map Ta Phut area has 300,000 inhabitants spread over 25 villages.