Thailand has ambitions to adopt nuclear power in the next two decades and is building ties with China, according to Anantaporn Kanjanarat, the country’s minister of energy.
“We have been sending our personnel to receive trainings from the countries which have nuclear technology and consider making investment in Thailand. They give us the opportunity to join their seminars and trainings on many issues regarding nuclear”, he said, referring to China and parts of Europe.
Thai delegates have also been to visit Japan to study the industry, including issues of public acceptance.
Antantaporn said one of Thailand’s power producers has a small stake in a nuclear energy project in China, which would help co-operation prospects if Thailand does take up the nuclear option. In January this year, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding announced it would invest 7.5 billion baht ($210 million) in a nuclear plant in China.
Thailand has not yet however firmly committed to a nuclear power programme, but it has issued a power development plan (in 2015) that envisages a 1 Gigawatt nuclear power plant online by 2035, and another the year after. The minister said the objective is to diversify fuel sources and mitigate risk, although public acceptance and feasibility are considerable hurdles to overcome.
Concerning traditional energy, the minister said that by June next year the country will auction concessions on two major gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand. Before bidding starts, the ministry will decide the terms of reference and conclude the legal amendments by the end of 2016.
Those fields are currently operated by state-owned PTT Exploration and Production, and US energy firm Chevron, with concessions finishing in 2022 and 2023.
SOURCE: Nikkei Asian Review.