Energy Power Industry in Thailand

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Thailand’s economic growth engine depends on a lot on the energy sector. The demand for energy in Thailand has amplified radically over the past few years. In spite of making efforts to adopt alternative sources of energy, the country is still dependent on imports to stimulate its increasing industry-based economy.

The in-house basic consumption of energy is weighted heavily towards fossil fuels, which accounted for 98% of primary energy consumption in 2014. Natural gas has become the fulcrum upon which energy development is now focused on both the hydrocarbons and electricity segments, with the fuel representing 44% of total primary energy usage. In the electricity segment, the concerted strategic shift away from imported fossil fuels towards energy diversification and independence should lead to ample growth in non-hydropower renewable energy and clean coal-fired generation, along with a more limited ongoing expansion in gas-fired power plants.

The energy industry in Thailand is the combination of all of the industries that are involved in the production of energy, including fuel extraction, manufacturing, refining, domestic distribution as well as import and export. Present society consumes large amounts of energy. Thus the energy industry plays a crucial part of the infrastructure and maintenance of the society in almost all countries.

The energy industry is sum of six different industries as given in the list below:

  1. The petroleum industry includes all the oil companies, petroleum refiners, fuel transport, distribution and sales at the gas stations.
  2. The gas industry includes natural gas extraction, distribution, and sales.
  3. The electrical power industry that includes electricity generation, electric power distribution, and supply.
  4. The coal industry includes coal gas manufacture and distribution.
  5. The nuclear power industry holds all the nuclear power generation centers where the energy is generated and supplied.
  6. The renewable energy industry comprises of alternative energy and ecological energy companies which include the industries involved in hydroelectric power, wind power, biogas power and solar power generation.Then the manufacture, distribution, and sale of fuels generated from these fuels.


According to the Ministry of Energy, Thailand’s basic energy consumption was about 75.2 million tons of oil equivalents in 2013 with arising of 2.6 percent over the previous year. Thailand produces coarsely one-third of the oil it consumes. It is the second largest importer of oil in Southeast Asia. It is a large producer of oil and natural gas, with natural gas reserves of at least 10 trillion cubic feet. It is also the second largest coal producer in Southeast Asia after Indonesia but must import additional coal to meet domestic demand.

Energy Usage in Thailand

Oil Natural Gas Coal Nuclear Hydro Renewables Total
50.4 47.0 16.0 0 1.3 1.0 115.6

Energy consumption by fuel 2013:



Oil and gas are the most important resources in Thailand. In Thailand, Rayong province is located quite close to Thailand’s offshore gas reservoirs. Thus it gives rise to the major gas consuming centers in Bangkok. Now this led to the Thailand’s three major offshore gas pipelines that are being constructed through the region. Relatively, as a result, the province, and especially the Map Ta Phut industry, has grown into one of Thailand’s largest petrochemical centers. In the 1980s construction work began on gas separation plants for producing fuels that could replace crude oil imports.

Thailand oil reserves produced 453 million barrels in January 2013, which is a significant increase of 11 million barrels from the previous year. According to a study in 2011 Thailand produced total oil liquids of about 393,000 barrels per day (bbl. /d), of which crude oil was 140,000 bbl. /d, 84,000 bbl. /d was condensated, natural gas liquids were 154,000 bbl. /d. Thailand used up to an expected 1 million bbl. /d amount of oil in 2011, leaving total net imports of 627,000 bbl. /d, thus making Thailand the second largest oil and gas importer in Asia.

Altogether there are seven refineries in Thailand that can produce a total capacity of 1,022,000 barrels per day. All major refineries are subsidiaries of PTT Group, except ESSO which is owned by Exxon. The total energy produced from these refineries still exceeds domestic demand that is (705,800 barrels per day). Thus Thailand depends on neighboring countries for extra power. A percentage of refined products are exported. The highest share of the total refined product is occupied by Diesel. The current capacity is considered to cover domestic needs for the next ten years

Crude oil production analysis



According to study, ninety percent of Thailand’s electrical generating capacity is conventional thermal. Industrial plants that work using oils have been replaced by natural gas thus results in 60 percent of electrical generation. On the other hand, plants that use coal, produce an additional 20 percent.Thus remaining power can be obtained from biomass, hydro, and biogas.

Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) is based on a state-owned single buyer scheme in Thailand. Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a State-owned enterprise was established in 1968. This industry purchases electricity from public and private power producers and then sells it to different distribution companies and also to direct customers. Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand is not only the single buyer but it also generates electricity. Along with subsidiaries, this industry generates nearly 60% of the current installed capacity.

In 2006 Thailand’s total installed capacity was 27,107 MW (up from a mere 907.7 MW in 1969). Along with the power generated by EGAT and other private producers, Thailand depends on power from neighboring countries like Lao and Malaysia. 2% of electricity imports accounts for the total installed power of the country.Although EGAT and its subsidiaries still take over the other industries in terms of electricity generation. Since 1992, programs for independent power producer and Small Power Producers allow the private operators to generate and sell electricity to EGAT.  Independent power producer must generate an excess of 90 MW per plant. Small Power Producers and VerySmall Power Producers, those producing less than 90 MW and less than 10 MW per plant, produce the remaining. In 2006 all producers have played an increasingly important role in installed capacity, as their share approached 40%. As peak demand reached 21,064 MW, the minimum reserve margin amounted to 22.3% of the installed capacity.


To become less oil-dependent the country started exploration and development of natural gas in 1981. The Department of Mineral Fuels (DMF) holds the responsibility for granting businesses for exploration and development of oil and gas fields. As a result of these activities, the country was able to produce and secure some oil. This is done on the gas reserves both on and offshore, such as natural gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand, and oil field in the central plains. Major industries are Chevron and PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), which is a subsidiary of PTT Public Company Limited (PTT), Thailand’s national gas company. The Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area (MTJA) is also another important supply source. Thailand and Malaysia equally share the rights and benefits of resources. PETRONAS is a joint-project between PTT and Malaysia’s national energy company.PTT also has a natural gas dealing agreement with Myanmar.PTT solely operates the integrated transmission and distribution pipeline system for natural gas. It procures natural gas from both native (73% of the overall supply) and neighboring sources such as Myanmar. PTT is also one of the largest gas separators in Thailand. PTT’s natural gas pipelines are approximately 2,700 kilometers in length and transport 3,170MMcfd of gas. The network includes 2,400 km of transmission pipelines and 300 km of distribution pipelines, both on- and offshore. Three major off-shore pipelines link the Gulf’s fields with Rayong and Pattaya’s coasts. Capacity, when combined, is 3,350MMcfd and is likely to expand to 4,500MMcfd when the new Artist pipeline will be provided with a compressor unit in the Gulf of Thailand. International transmission systems include the two following pipelines: a pipeline that links Myanmar’s gas fields in the Bengalese Gulf and Ratchaburi’s power plants and the Trans-Thailand-Malaysia Gas Pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand. PTT is planning to further expand the pipelines on both the eastern side and the western side.

PTT currently owns five natural gas plants with a combined capacity of separating of about 1,710MMcfd of natural gas among which four are in Map Ta Phut based and one is in Khanom.


Coal is another major source of fuel in Thailand. The main producer of coal is EGAT which uses coal as fuel in power generation process. The main coal reserve is based in Mae Moh Basin which is located in Lampang Province. This alone accounts for around 83% of total coal production.

According to the 2010 BP Statistical Energy Survey, Thailand has 1354 million tons of coal reserves which are about 0.16% of the world total. Coal production in Thailand is about 18.83 million tons, 0.15% of the world’s total production and coal consumption of 14.11 million tons oil equivalent, 0.43% of the world’s total consumption.

Thailand’s largest coal producer, Banpu, has entered into an equal partnership joint venture with CLP Powergen Southeast Asia to build a 1,400 MW power station that will be operated by burning fuel at Rayong. The total cost estimated is at US$1.3 billion.

Lignite is significantly produced in Thailand which is used almost exclusively for power generation. Lignite production is around 21 Mt/y in the nation. Thailand also imports 5-6 Mt/y of bituminous coal for industrial use. The Mae Moh power plant uses 2,400 MW of energy as is lignite-fired. It is the largest source of electricity in the country and  generates around 13% of Thailand’s electric power. This makes it the largest point sources of atmospheric pollution in Thailand. The total cost of the project has been estimated at US$1.3 billion, and this amount is being debt financing from a group of financing institutions. The construction began during 2003 and the project will rely on imported coal. Banpu’s mines located in Thailand and Indonesia have a combined capacity to produce about 14.5 Mt/y, with a reserve base of 170 Mt and resources of 139 Mt.


In Thailand, there are no nuclear power plants but there were plans to produce five gig watts of electricity by 2025 using nuclear technology but were scaled back to 2 GW due to the result of the Fukushima disaster.

As the memories of Fukushima recalls interest in nuclear power has revived. Thailand including seven other nations has signed agreements with Russia’s state nuclear energy agency. This agency is Rosatom. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has sent 100 specialists to train for nuclear power plant projects as it is currently working with China, Japan, and South Korea on nuclear power generation technology. up to five percent of the country’s power generation is planned to be generated from nuclear by the year 2036.


Generating solar power is a photovoltaic system that converts light into electrical direct current (DC) by using the photoelectric effect. Solar photovoltaic technology has the potential of any renewable technologies. Concentrated solar power (CSP) technology makes use of lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to concentrate a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Commercial concentrated solar power firms were first established in the 1980s. CSP-Sterling has the highest efficiency technology among all solar energy technologies.

In Thailand generating solar power is targeted to reach 6,000 MW by 2036. The installation of photovoltaic capacity nearly doubled and reached 704 MW by the end of the year 2013. By the end of 2015, Thailand has more solar power capacity in Southeast Asia with a total capacity of 2,500-2,800 MW.

In Thailand, especially the southern and northern parts of the northeastern region of UdonThani Province and certain areas in the central region have great solar potential. About 14.3% of the country has a daily solar exposure of around 19–20 MJ/m2/day, whereas 50% of the country exposure is around 18–19 MJ/m2/day. Thailand lags behind the US, in terms of solar potential, but is ahead of Japan.

Insolation in Bangkok with an average of 5.04 hours of the sun per day

The84 megawatt (MW) Lopburi Solar Farmphotovoltaic power station is based in Lopburi Province, Thailand. Its construction was completed in May 2013. According to a review conducted in2014  reported that the project had concluded two years of successful activity. The review categorized the project under “highly successful” projects.Conergy, a German-based solar energy company signed a contract with Thailand’s Siam Solar Energy to construct three more solar plants of 10.5 MW each in addition to previous two solar plants that have been under construction since 2012.


In Thailand from the beginning of 2015, the biogas payment is applied in the areas of solid waste management, wastewater treatment, and energy crops. Also, the industries are producing biodiesel from palm oil and blending it with conventional diesel in order to reduce petroleum imports. The aim of  production is 5.97 million liters per day in 2021. The researchers from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand have developed a technique to produce ethanol from water hyacinth and are working to raise the scale up so that it can be produced commercially. For producing biofuel there is a good demand for sugarcane, cassava and palm oil feedstocks resulting in shortages, craving the need to find other feedstock that could overcome the supply challenges like water hyacinth where millions of tons are taken every year from waterways. Ethanol yields are low, however, at just half that of molasses with 25 liters per ton of hyacinth.Biofuels in Thailand consist of ethanol and biodiesel. Thailand is rich in agricultural resources thus is well positioned to effectively provide biofuel slike ethanol and biodiesel, in turn, helping meet its energy needs.

Ethanol is produced by the fermentation of molasses which is a by-product of sugar manufacture. Usually, after the sugar is manufactured, one ton of sugarcane yields about 45 kg of molasses andfromthis10 liters of ethanol can be produced. The sugarcane juice can also be directly utilized in fermentation to ethanol and with this one ton of sugarcane yields around 70 liters of ethanol. Another feedstock used for manufacturing ethanol is cassava, generally known as tapioca. The root contains 25% starch. While manufacturing the starch is first hydrolyzed to sugar then it is fermented to produce ethanol. Biodiesel can also be obtained by the transesterification of vegetable oil similarly blended with diesel to reduce the consumption of diesel. Now when ethanol is blended into gasoline, this mixture is called gasohol. The Government Thailand has created an environment that works on the development of biofuels. The National Biofuel Committee is the central agency is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic plan to enhance the manufacturing and maintaining the quality of biofuels.

The traditional energy industry is based on the collection and distribution of firewood used for cooking and heating which is particularly common in poorer areas.


The biggest form of renewable energy in Thailand is Hydropower, beating solar power and wind power. The total generation capacity is over 7000MW of hydro power which is installed in 26 hydroelectric dams in the whole country. The Bhumibol Dam is the biggest hydroelectric dam in Thailand that comprises of 8 turbines supplying it a total capacity of 749MW. The dam was established in 1964 and is now owned and operated by the Electricity Generating Authority. Thailand also imports hydroelectricity produced by hydroelectric power plants in other countries. Thailand was importing 7% of the electricity of the total produce by the year 2015 from the neighboring countries like Laos, Myanmar, and China.


Thailand had its first group of electricity generating wind turbines established in 1983. This set comprises of six turbines that are located at LaemPhromthep in Phuket Province. The industries were owned by EGAT .The generated wind electricity from the turbines was used to power the nearby research stations. In 1988 the outcome was quite satisfying so EGAT planned to connect the turbines to the power network of the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), and in 1990 the turbines started operating. Two more turbines with a capacity of 10 kW were installed and connected to the grid in 1992.

The government and private organizations and especially the educational institutes had an interest in producing wind power in Thailand. KMUTT was the first organization to install 2.5 kW and 10 kW wind turbines at PhuKradueng National Park in Loei Province, and Tarutao National Marine Park in Satun Province in 1996. Later in the same year, one 150 kW wind turbine was installed by the Recycle Engineering Company Limited at Ko Chang District in Chonburi Province, that became Thailand’s first private wind turbine.

Thailand has some areas with utilizable wind speeds of 6.4 m/s annual average wind speed caused by the two monsoons that affect Thailand annually namely the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. The northeast monsoon comes during the period between November and March from the South China Sea, producing strong wind in the coastal areas of Thailand and the southern Gulf of Thailand. The southwest monsoon comes between May and October from the Indian Sea, producing strong wind in the west part of upper southern and lower northern Thailand.

There are plans to increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy production up to 25 percent. According to statistics, the share of renewable energy stands at 11.91 percent in Thailand.



The rise in regional cooperation has encouraged business and investment in energy in Thailand, especially in the Mekong region, but the negligible importance is given to the environmental considerations. More awareness of the environmental sustainability during energy generation and use is required. Giving legal clearance to implement sustainable ways by investing in bioenergy should be given. The policy makers are required to offer a steady and conventional framework to encourage ventures in bio-energy in the country, ensuring environmental sustainability.

Thailand is now sustaining the production and use of biofuel. It is taking measures to make it compulsory to use biodiesel. The government is providing tax incentives to the producers of biofuel and also loans to palm oil producers at low rates of interest. On the contrary, as the government promotes the price of palm oil and makes it compulsory to use biodiesel, the plan is to increase the cultivation of palm trees to meet the supply needs of national targets. The government is also planning to keep on subsidizing gasohol and biodiesel along with the Oil Fund to sustain a competitive price range.