ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
energy in the above table includes firewood, charcoal,
bagasses, and rice husk. Assessment of non-commercial
use of firewood and charcoal is very approximate. Non-commercial
uses of solar and wind energy in salt production, drying
products, ect. are not included. From the above table,
energy consumption per capita in 1986 was about 610 litres
of oil equivalent. It should also be noted that the projected
consumption in 1996 is based upon an annual growth rate
of 4.7 percent.
However, the actual growth of total
energy consumption in 1988 was more than 13 percent owing
mainly to the rapid expansion of the industrial and transportation
sectors in the country. As a result, development of domestic
energy sources such as natural gas, oil, lignite, biomass,
etc. has already been accelerated.
NATURAL GAS AND OIL
The potential for natural gas and oil
in Thailand is quite substantial. Proven and ultimate
recoverable reserves of natural gas found to be 348 cu.m
and 513 cu.m. respectively. In 1985, natural gas production
from the Gulf of Thailand was about 6.8 million cu.m per
day. It is expected that by 1991, the production capacity
will be over 13.5 million cu.m per day. Methane, ethane,
LPG and condensate are separated in a gas separation plant
and used for electricity generation,as raw materials for
the petrochemical industry, and as cooking gas and vehicular
Proven and expected reserves of crude
oil and condensate have been identified at 100 and 1,100
million barrels res pectively Current production from
the Sirikit oil field in Kamphaengphet is about 20,000
barrels per day. New oil fields were recently fiund off
the Chumphon and the Bang Rakam District and are expected
to produce about 10,000 barrels per day. In addition,
more gas and oil fields are expected to be found in Thailand,
both off-and onshore.
deposits have been found in 37 basins in Northern
and Southern provinces in Thailand. Present proven reserves
are about 1,100 million tons, of which over 80 percent
are located in the North. Recently, large lignite deposits
have been identified at Songkhla, with a reserve of over
100 million tons, and at Surat Thani, with reserves of
about 150 million tons, In 1985, five million tons of
lignite were used for electricity generation at 735 MW
capacity. It is planned that in 1991 the lignite-fired
station will have a total generation capacity of 1,485
MW and consume about 9 million tons of lignite per year.
Utilization of lignite in industry has
been actively promoted. The amount of lignite consumption
by industry increased from 0.5 million tons in 1885 to
1.3 milloin tons in 1988. At present industrial uses of
lignite occur mainly in the cement industry and also in
small and medium size factories around Bangkok. It should
be mentioned that though an air quality standard exists
in Thailand, emission regulation for lignite combustion
has not yet been established. Boilers used in power stations
and industry emit sulphur dioxide and NOX directly into
the atmosphere. With the increasing uses of domestic lignite
and imported coal for electricity generation and industry,
a better pollution control in the use is being considered.
It has also been estimated that geological reserves of
lignite could reach 2,600 million tons, from which the
recoverable amount is quite considerable.
Exploration of oil shale in Thailand
commenced in the northern part of the country in 1935.
To date 21,000 million tons of oil shale have been identified
with a shale oil reserve of about 6,700 million barrels.
Recoverable reserves are estimated about 2,400 million
barrels. The kerosene content in Thai oil shale is relitively
low, below 10 percent on the average. Though several processes
for shale oil extraction have been developed, mainly in
the U.S.,at the present level of oil prices the exploitatuon
of shale oil in Thailand would not be competitive. However,
the oil shale reserves represent a large domestic source
of energy for the future.
The total hydro potential of domestic
rivers is estimated at about 10,050 MW. The current generation
capacity of hydro electricity at 2,300 MW. represents
about 30 percent of the total generating capacity of the
country. Hydro potential of domestic rivers still exists
and can be further utilized when a few environmental issuse
can be resolved in the future.
As part of rural electricfication program
to bring electricity to 95 percent of all villages in
Thailand by 1990, 29 small hydropower sites have been
identified as economically suitable for more accurate
cost estimates and detailed engineering work. It should
be noted that the thorough feasibility study of a small
hydropower project tends to indicate that the cosy of
electricity generated from a suitable site can be more
economical than electricity generated from a diesel-electric
set of a photovoltaic plant.
In 1985, about 54 percent and 46 percent
of rural households used wood and charcoal for cooking.
The total sustainable supply of fuelwood in 1983 was estimated
at about 15.5 million cu.m, but the total consumption
of fuelwood in the same year was about 38.6 million cu.m.
The deficit of 23.1 cu.m was met by over-cutting of forests.
By 2001, potential demand for fuelwood could reach 30
million cu.m. To avoid serious environmental and economic
damages due to deforestation, reforestation programs have
been implemented and have had good success. During the
last five years, about 100,000 acres of eucalyptus have
been planted, and large plantations of other fast growing
trees are planned by both public and private sectors.
Several agricultural residues have been
as fuels in rural industries. Most of the bagases resource,
estimated at about 7.5 million tons per year, is used
as boiler fuel in sugar mills. Rice husk supply was estimated
in in 1987 to be over 5 million tons, 40 percent of which
was used as boiler fuel in rice mills. More than 3 million
tons are still available as energy resource for rural
industries or electricity generation whose potential is
estimated to be at least 88 GWh per year. Palm oil wastes
consisting of fibre, shells, and empty bunches are also
used as boiler fuel in palm oil mills.
Other agricultural residues such as straw,
maize stalks, cassava stalks, coconut shells and husk
also have potential as energy resources for rural areas,
their total supply being more than 35 million tons per
year. Viable utilization technologies are being identified
It is realized that some types of industrial
waste waters can be utillized for biogas production. Laboratory
scale tests were conducted on several types of such waters
such as tapioca waste, canning food waste, and dairy waste
in order to determine their potentials for this purpose.
A pilot study of biogas production from pineapple waste
has been successfully conducted and an industrial plant
is under construction at a pineapple canning factory.
Several breweries in Thailand now generate biogas from
their wastes. Liquid wastes from sugar mills and palm
oil mills are also being considered for biogas generation.
SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY
Thailand is fairly well endowed with
solar radiation at 17 MJ/(m*m) per day on the average,
though about 50 percent of the global radiation appears
as diffuse radiation. Equipment using direct radiation
is therefore hardly feasible economically. Solar energy
has been used non-commercially in the country for centuries.
Its use in salt production from sea water has been estimated
to be as much as the equivalent of 20 million barrels
of oil. Sun drying of about 15 million tons of paddy rice
per year requires solar energy equivalent to about half
a million barrels of oil. Sun drying has also been widely
used for other agricultural and marine products, though
there has been no official attempt to estimate the amount
of non-commercial solar energy utilization.
A solar water heating industry has been
established in Thailand for almost a decade, with solar
collectors installed for the purpose in hospitals, hotels,
and private homes. Current domestic production of solar
collectors is over 10,000 sq.m per year. Development of
solar dryers has also been very active in the country
and a few designs of concection dryers have been commercialized
with some success. Several designs of solar stills have
been developed, including vertical surface solar stills,
and installation of large solar stills for demonstration
is being planned.
Generation of electricity by photovoltaic
cells has developed rapidly in Thailand. A large number
of demonstration projects for telecommunication, lighting,
and water pumping have been set up, with a combined peak
output of about 400 KW. Semi-conductor laboratories in
two academic institutes conduct research and development
on solar cell materials and fabrication. Photovoltaic
modules are locally produced in two factories.
In general, the potential of wind energy
in Thailand is not very promising as the average wind
speed in the country is only about 2 m/s, which is rather
low for economical utilization. However, high wind speeds
exist in some coastal areas, and windmills have been used
for water pumping in salt farms and rice fields in Samut
Sakhon, Chonburi and other provinces. It has been recently
shown that traditional sail-type windmills used for water
pumping in salt farms are more economical than diesel-driven
water pumps. Demonstrations of wind electric power systems
have also been conducted.
Energy and the Environment
use of energy partly contributes to environmental problems,
particularly air pollution in Bangkok. The government
and the energy sector have move quickly to alleviate this
Unleaded gasoline was introduced for
the first time on 1 May 1991 and is now avialable throughout
the country. Mandatory installation of catalytic converters
in all new gasoline vehicles became effective on 1 September
1993. Regular leaded gasoline which contains 0.15 gram
per liter of lead will be completely replace by regular
unleaded gasoline by 1 January 1995. Moreover, the sulphur
content of diesel oil is being reduced from 0.5 percent
to 0.25 percent by 1 January 1995 with a target of 0.05
percent by the year 2000. The distillation point has been
lowered to make the product lighter, this should help
reduce the emission of sulphates, particulates and black
smoke. More restrictive controls have also been placed
on the level of benzene and aromatices in gasoline.
At present lignite fired power plants
are the main source of sulphur dioxide emission in Thailand.
Following incidents of atmospheric inversion in October
1992 at Mae Moh district, where the 2,000 MW lignite-fired
power plant complex is located, the Thai Government immediately
applied a short-term measure to rectify the situation
by reducing electriciry generation according to the real-time
measurement of sulphurdioxide concentration in Mae Moh.
The government also ordered EGAT to install flue gas desulphurization
units (FGD) in all new lignite-fired power plants to minimize
emissions and to retrofit four existing unit FGDs. This
is expected to reduce sulphurdioxide emission at Mea Moh
by 50 percent.
Moreover, the government from now on
will implement a more aggressive policy towards energy
efficiency and conservation, which is the most direct
way of reducting carbon dioxide emission, thereby alleviating
global warming. After government approval at the end of
1991, EGAT recently launched a five year Demand Side Management
Programme (DSM) which will provide financial incentives
for projects to promote the construction of energy-efficient
buildings and the use of energy efficient euipment and
appliances. The programme will start with efficient lighting
programme. At the end of the programme, EGAT expects to
save over 300 MW of electricity while spending 4.8 billion
bath and also expects that the programme will develop
the utilites' ability to achieve much greater saving in
the long term.
The energy security of the country
has been achieved through developmint of the main domestic
resources, namely natural gas, oil, and lignite. It is
expected that more natural gas and lignite reserves will
be identified and that dependency on imported energy will
be further reduced.
Biomass, especially fuelwood, will
still remain the main energy resource in rural areas of
Thailand for the next two decades. Plantation of fast-growing
trees can provide an alternative source of energy and
help decrease deforestation. The large potential of hydro-power
from domestic and international rivers can be utilized
once environmental and political constraints are removed.
Domestic lignite and imported coal
apprar to be the most viable alternative sources of energy
for electric generation and industry. Technologies for
pollution controls on their uses are already available.
Large domestic reserves of oil shale can also be utilized
when the proven shale oil extraction processes become
economical in the future.
Domestic resources of solar energy
and biomass, especially agricultural and industrial wastes,
have high potentials for utilization snd viable technologies
are being identified or developed. During the next decade,
it may be stated with confidence that Thailand will have
adequate energy supply for the development of the country.