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Thailand's Electrical Market

Thailand's energy market is centered around the state-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), which is responsible for generating, transmitting and wholesaling electricity, and whose own generating capacity accounted for 33% of Thailand’s total electricity generating capacity as of the end of 2019. As the Transmission System Operator (TSO), EGAT oversees the balance of the supply and demand in the transmission system and controls and administers all the electricity generated in provincial areas from those power plants connected with its high-voltage transmission lines and high-voltage substations. EGAT is the only organization that can purchase or resell wholesale electricity to other distributors.

Besides EGAT, there are two retail distributors who are responsible for distributing and providing low-voltage electricity to end users, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), with the MEA servicing Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan provinces (28% of the market in 2019), while the PEA services the remainder of the country (71% in 2019).

Private Power Producers

Since 1992, Thailand has encouraged private companies to enter the power generation market. These companies are regulated by the amount of electricity each facility can produce, according to the following table.

In the case of the first two categories, the electricity is sold directly to EGAT under the terms of the long term contracts they have arranged. In the case of VSPP's, the electricity can be sold to the PEA and MEA utilizing the applicable feed-in tariff for the type of power facility involved. In some cases, private electricity companies may have a transmission system directly to the industrial estates which they service.

Power Development Plan

The course of Thailand’s electricity industry development has set forth a goal of greater efficiency - both on the supply side and demand side. The aim is to ensure the optimization of energy resources and minimization of environmental impacts, with an ultimate goal of sustainable energy development. On the other hand, the industry has also had to properly adjust to economic and social changes as well as national energy policies and strategies over the past decades.

The rise of Thailand’s industrial sector is the primary contributor to the country’s large electricity appetite. The chart below highlights the percentage share of the country's total electrical energy consumption between January and May 2020 for each of the main sectors. The largest share, 43%, was consumed by industrial users, followed by residential users at 29%. The business sector accounted for 24% of total electrical consumption, while other users consumed about 4.4%, according to data from Energy Policy and Planning Office, Ministry of Energy.

In 2020, electrical consumption decreased in almost all sectors of the economy, particularly business and industry, due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on exports and tourism. In the household sector, electricity usage rose by 7.0% due to increased usage of air conditioning to combat higher temperatures compared to the previous years, coupled with measures encouraging staying at and working from home to reduce the spread of the virus.

Thailand is highly dependent on energy imports. Therefore, the country has identified that it needs to develop new sources of energy both domestically and regionally, through collaboration with neighboring countries as well as promoting the use of energy from renewable sources and improving infrastructure to reduce the cost of transport and improve efficiency.

“Thailand Power Development Plan 2018 (2018-2037) was approved by the cabinet on April 30, 2019, and further updated in 2020 as "PDP 2018 rev.1". It focuses on:

(1) Energy Security: coping with the increasing power demand to correspond to National Economic and Social Development Plan and taking into account fuel diversification

(2) Economy: maintaining an appropriate cost of power generation for long-term economic competitiveness

(3) Ecology: lessening the carbon dioxide footprint of power generation and focusing on renewable energy sources

Estimated energy targets for the PDP2018 rev.1 are shown in the following table:

Fuel Current Percentage Percentage in 2037
Imported hydro power 7 9
Clean coal including lignite 20 12
Alternative energy 8 20
Natural gas 64 53
Diesel/Fuel oil 1 -
Energy Efficiency - 6

Power Demand Forecast

In 2037, the total capacity would be 77,211 MW comprising existing capacity of 46,090 MW (as of December 2018), new capacity of 56,431 MW, and retired capacity during 2018 - 2037 of 25,310 MW as shown below:

Generation capacity during 2018 – 2037 under the PDP 2018
Generation capacity as of the end of 2018 46,090 MW
New generation capacity during 2018-2037 56,431 MW
Retired capacity during 2018-2037 -25,310 MW
Generation capacity as of the end of 2037 77,211 MW

The capacity to be added during 2018-2037 can be classified as follows:

Power Plant Type
Renewable Energy power plants 20,766 MW
Pump-storage hydro power plants 500 MW
Co-generation power plants 2,112 MW
Coal/Lignite 1,200 MW
Combined cycle power plants 15,096 MW
Power purchased from neighboring countries 5,857 MW
New / renewable power plants 6,900 MW
Energy Conservation 4,000 MW
Total 56,431 MW

Future Outlook

Thailand's power generation businesses can expect to continue to see steady growth, supported by both solid demand and government support for investment. Domestic demand for electricity should continue to grow in line with the economy, with growing investments in business and industry continuing to feed the rising consumption of electrical power. The 2018-2037 Power Development Plan (PDP rev.1) together with the extension of existing SPP co-generation contracts will help to expand generating capacity and raise investment in new power plants in the near term.

Sources : ERC and Energy Policy and Planning Office, Ministry of Energy

Last updated : July 31, 2020

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