Monday, July 24, 2017

Myanmar: Kayin chief minister offers powerful reasons for a coal-fired electricity plant

Myanmar: Kayin chief minister offers powerful reasons for a coal-fired
electricity plant

Nang Khin Htwe Myint says a planned coal-fired power plant must go ahead to
attract the foreign investment needed to support development and create

MAJOR obstacle to the National League for Democracy government's plans to
create jobs and attract more foreign investment is the shortage of electric
power. There is strong opposition to coal-fired power plants and building
dams to generate hydro-electricity. The production of natural gas, another
energy source to generate electricity, will decline as reserves are

The government is producing electricity at a loss of US$300 million a year
and the limited opportunities to profit from power generation are affecting
foreign investment in the sector. Despite these challenges the NLD
government has bravely backed plans to increase electricity production and
they include the building of coal-fired power plants. But is the production
of electricity from burning coal acceptable in Myanmar?

Plans to build coal-fired power plants in Ayeyarwady and Tanintharyi regions
and Mon and Kayin states face opposition. At a news conference after an NLD
central executive committee meeting late last month, party spokesperson U
Win Htein spoke in favour of the plans. He said coal was more readily
available than other energy sources and the plants, although costly, could
be built relatively quickly. His answer made clear that the ruling party
does not oppose coal-fired power plants.

The issue was also raised when reporters questioned the Minister for Natural
Resources and Environmental Conservation, U Ohn Win, after he attended a
session of the Amyotha Hluttaw on June 30. Ohn Win said coal-fired plants
were acceptable if they did not have an adverse effect on people and the
environment. His answer indicated support for comprehensive environmental
and social impact statements before approval is given to build coal-fired

A passionate supporter of coal-fired power is the Kayin State Chief
Minister, Nang Khin Htwe Myint. She spoke at a seminar held in the state
capital, Hpa-an, on June 21 to discuss a plan by a big Thai construction
company, TTLC, to invest $3 billion in a coal-fired plant in Kayin with a
capacity of 1,280 megawatts, or about one-quarter of existing national
output. The proposed plant will use ultra-supercritical technology, which
requires less coal per megawatt hour than other methods of generating
electricity from coal. Ultra-supercritical technology also has the advantage
of lower emissions of greenhouse gases, higher efficiency and lower fuel
costs per megawatt hour compared to other methods. (TTLC is also planning to
invest $3 billion in a coal-fired plant in neighbouring Mon State with a
similar production capacity. Work on that project is due to start later this
year, Thai media has reported).

Khin Htwe Myint told the seminar the plant was essential to help develop
Kayin State.

"How can we get electricity for our state? How can we provide electricity to
our people as soon as possible? I think everybody is well aware that only if
we have electricity, can our state be developed," she said.

The chief minister said Kayin had been suffering from a lack of electricity
for more than 40 years. She pledged to take responsibility for the
coal-fired plant if it goes ahead and was critical of those who had
protested against the project.

"There are those who never think of the people of the state; the cynics
always take a pessimistic view," Khin Htwe Myint said.

"Because the country is poor, Kayin State is poorer and more backward.
Because there are no jobs, people living in Kayin cross to the border to the
neighbouring country by various ways and have to do whatever work is
available," she said.

She also said that bringing more electricity to Kayin would help attract
foreign investment to build factories that would create thousands of jobs
for the state's citizens.

"Kayin is not the only state or region with a shortage of electricity; the
whole country is suffering. In Myanmar, only one third of families have
access to electricity, the lowest rate of availability in the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations," she said.

"It is important to emphasise that producing electricity need not have a
negative impact on the people and the environment. If the coal-fired power
plant meets social and environmental impact guidelines it should be built.
Hydro-electric plants should also be built if the power they produce is
shared fairly."

The Kayin chief minister is right. Even if there are minor negative
side-effects from the coal-fired plant after it is built, it is better for
the people than having to work in a foreign country likes slaves without
labour rights and no education or health care for their families.

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

China reportedly threatens Vietnam into ending energy exploration in South China Sea

China reportedly threatens Vietnam into ending energy exploration in South
China Sea

Vietnam stopped a company from exploring for energy in contested waters of
the South China Sea after taking threats from Beijing, the BBC reported
early on Monday.

Talisman-Vietnam, a subsidiary of Spanish energy firm Repsol, commenced
gas-drilling operations in an area about 400 kilometers off Vietnam's coast
earlier this month, but Hanoi has since ordered Repsol to leave the zone,
the BBC said, citing an unnamed source.

Last week, Beijing warned Hanoi that it would attack Vietnamese bases in the
Spratly Islands if drilling continued, the BBC continued.

Beijing claims tremendous area

The world's second-largest economy claims a massive section of the South
China Sea that extends roughly 1,000 miles from its southern shores. The
huge area is home to significant energy deposits and the world's busiest
shipping routes. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also
assert sovereign rights over parts of the international waterway.

The site of Talisman-Vietnam's operations is known as Block 136-03 in
Vietnam and Wan-an Bei 21 in China. In 2014, Hong Kong-based firm Brightoil
bought the Chinese rights to the area, according to the BBC.

Hanoi's compliance with Chinese threats, if true, could spell bad news for
Manila and Jakarta, which recently announced bold moves in the
tension-ridden region.

This month, the Philippines suggested it could resume oil and gas drilling
in the Reed Bank after a three-year suspension. Meanwhile, Indonesia has
renamed the northern side of its exclusive economic zone in the South China
sea and could soon use its navy to protect resource exploration.

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

Cambodia: Police Stop Activists From Reaching Sesan II Dam Village

Cambodia: Police Stop Activists From Reaching Sesan II Dam Village

Authorities in Stung Treng province on Sunday stopped a group of indigenous
activists from reaching a village slated for imminent flooding by the Lower
Sesan II hydropower dam but released them after escorting them to the
provincial capital.

Meng Heng, a member of the environmental rights group Mother Nature, said he
was traveling with the approximately 30 activists headed toward Kbal Romeas
village to show their support for dozens of families refusing to abandon
their homes to the dam when they were stopped by local police at about noon.
"The 30 people were traveling in two trucks from [Mondolkiri] province and
the Sesan district authorities stopped the trucks and brought them to the
provincial police station, but they were released," he said.

Mr. Heng said they were set free at about 5 p.m., after endorsing documents
promising not to return without prior consent from local authorities, and
headed back to Mondolkiri.

Hor Vuthy, head of the provincial police's minor crimes bureau, said about
22 people were questioned and released. But he declined to say why and
referred additional questions to district authorities, who also declined to
explain why the activists were detained.

Most of the 5,000 people living on the 36,000 hectares the dam is set to
turn into a giant reservoir have already moved to resettlement sites where
the government and the companies building the 400-megawatt dam-Cambodia's
Royal Group and China's Hydrolancang International Energy-are providing them
with new homes and farms. But more than 100 families in Srekor and Kbal
Romeas villages have refused the offer, worried that life will be much
harder at the sites. Families in Srekor have prepared small shelters on a
nearby "safety hill" for if and when the water reaches them.

The dam began closing its floodgates on July 15 for testing and is set to
start producing power on September 25.

On Sunday, deputy provincial governor Duong Pov said eight of the 10 gates
have since been closed and that the families refusing to leave Srekor
village were told on Friday that the water would reach their homes in a

"We asked the people to cooperate with our authorities to move from the
village to the safety hill, and if they volunteer we will take them to the
relocation sites because we already built homes for the families," he said.
"It is difficult for us to rescue them because some villagers are refusing
to cooperate with our authorities."

Suth Thoeun, a Srekor village holdout, said the families didn't want their
help. "People don't want help from the authorities because they know how to
save themselves, but if they want to [help] it's up to them because that is
the job of the authorities," he said. "I will only move from the villages if
the water reaches the roof of my house."

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

Thailand: New energy code due soon

Thailand: New energy code due soon

The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) is
monitoring energy consumption of large buildings more closely, particularly
newly constructed ones, to ensure they comply with the efficient power
consumption standards due to be regulated soon.

Komol Buaket, DEDE director of energy regulation and conservation bureau,
said the building energy code (BEC) for large structures is scheduled to be
implemented in the second quarter of next year.

The department defines large buildings as those with total usage areas of
more than 10,000 square metres; buildings with a power meter capacity of
more than 1,175 kilovolt-amperes (DVA); and buildings that consume more than
20 million megajoules a year.

The BEC is an international power consumption standard that has been adopted
by Thailand since 2013. It prescribes the amount of power that should be
used in buildings as well as approaches that help reduce heat, such as
having plants in green areas, to reduce temperature and power consumption.

For old buildings, the owners or property management firms must report their
annual energy consumption reports to the energy auditor every year to ensure
that the new BEC rules are fair to owners of both old and new buildings, Mr
Kamol said.

He said the DEDE has trained more than 170,000 energy auditors for the BEC
since 2007.

Praphon Wongtharua, DEDE director-general, said he expects the BEC to cover
about 100 new large buildings. Each building is expected to consume more
than 6 million kilowatt hour a year, which the BEC would be expected to cut
by 10%.

The BEC was first implemented in 2013, starting from buildings of state
agencies, and has helped reduced energy consumption substantially.

Meanwhile, the DEDE has allocated a 4.3-billion-baht budget from the Energy
Conservation Fund to support energy-saving measures and increase efficient
energy consumption in buildings and factories to 2019.

Some 3.5 billion baht of the total budget will be provided through 11
commercial banks for working capital under a soft loan programme, while
another 800 million would be set aside as a part project finance and part
subsidy of energy-saving equipment in buildings.

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

Vietnamese cities aim at waste-to-energy future

Vietnamese cities aim at waste-to-energy future

Several Vietnamese cities are striving to recycle and reuse waste, with
waste a growing concern in the country and around the world.

Waste is an environmental problem, especially in big cities, and as living
standards improve, more waste is generated.

Economic development and population growth are increasing household and
medical waste in Vietnam's cities more rapidly than in many other countries.

About 5,400 tonnes of solid household waste are generated in Hanoi each day,
with the figure in Ho Chi Minh City some 8,300 tonnes per day, which
forecasts say will hit 13,000 tonnes by 2025.

However, up to 90 percent of solid household waste in Hanoi and 76 percent
in HCM City is still buried. The rest is burned, recycled or converted into
organic fertiliser.

Temporary landfill sites are already overloaded, and the environment will be
seriously affected unless advanced technologies are applied.

In Hanoi, the municipal Party Committee is aiming to treat some more solid
waste with technology and to bury less waste.

The capital city plans to start construction of a waste treatment factory
using high technology in Bac Son commune of Soc Son district in the third
quarter of 2017. This plant is set to treat 4,000 tonnes of waste a day.

Also, the Construction Department of Hanoi plans to submit a roadmap for
applying advanced solid waste treatment technology to the municipal People's
Committee in the first quarter of next year, aiming at a lower volume of
buried waste.

HCM City authorities meanwhile encourage investors to use modern waste
treatment technologies to reduce the rate of buried waste to 50 percent in
2020 and 20 percent in 2025.

At a recent meeting with Governor of Sweden's Ostergotland county Elisabeth
Nilsson, Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said one
of his city's top priorities is to apply modern European technologies in
environmental improvement.

Hanoi plans to have a waste-to-energy plant in 2019, and it will seek
private investment in waste treatment, he noted.

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

Philippines: Biomass plants being studied for FiT scheme

Philippines: Biomass plants being studied for FiT scheme

THE National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) is looking at a proposal to
endorse biomass plants to receive a guaranteed rate for the electricity they
produce in areas where they are unable to undergo testing or commissioning
and be cleared for the feed-in-tariff (FiT).

"Let's work on a period when your FiT will become effective when the
transmission lines are upgraded," said Jose M. Layug, Jr., chairman of NREB,
the agency that advises the Department of Energy (DoE) on the direction of
renewable energy policy.

He said the issue has become contentious in the case of Negros island where
transmission lines are limited. He said three biomass plants are expected to
be completed in the area within the year.

He said that at the NREB board level, the members have talked to the
National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the DoE and the department's
renewable energy management bureau on the transmission line limitations.

"We want to make sure that if they finish there's some form of testing and
commissioning for them even if the transmission line is constrained," he
told reporters.

"What we've told these people, if you finish but you cannot throw power then
maybe what we should tell ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) is to endorse
you for FiT but effective when the lines are upgraded," he said.

As of March, seven biomass power plants had been scheduled for commissioning
or completion this year, keeping them in the running for the reduced FiT
rate of around P6.60 for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) they export to the
electricity grid.

The projects -- four in Luzon and three in Mindanao -- have a combined
capacity of 37.1 megawatts (MW). Should they be able to start commercial
operations this year, they qualify for the P6.5969 per kWh degressed FiT
rate for the renewable energy.

As of end-2016, the ERC had awarded certificates of compliance to projects
with a total capacity of 28.6976 MW, or way below the 250-MW installation
target set by the DoE for biomass plants, which convert agricultural waste
to electricity.

That certificate serves as basis for the biomass developers' collection of
the guaranteed FiT. Subscription to the installation target and the
corresponding FiT is to end in December 2017.

Mr. Layug also said industry associations asked for a three-to five-year
extension of the FiT system for biomass and run-of-river power plant
projects. Like biomass, the installation target for small hydro-power plants
has been undersubscribed.

"What I've asked from them -- the associations -- is give me the details,
the rationale behind the extension, how many years and why," he said.

For run-of-river hydro-power, the DoE under the previous administration set
a target of 250 MW with a FiT rate of P5.90 per kWh. As of May 2017, only
four projects have been built with a total capacity of 28.70 MW. The rate
has been adjusted this year to P5.8705 per kWh as called for by the FiT

Under the FiT system, qualified developers of emerging renewable energy
sources are offered a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour of their exported
electricity, but excluding the energy for their own use.

"To me the driving force should be how many more years you need to complete
the construction, and a component of that is getting the permits," Mr. Layug
said, adding that three years should be enough.

He said the proposed extension was meant for those with power plants under
construction but might not be able to complete their projects by the
end-December 2017 deadline.

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

Thailand: Output from new plant added to national electricity grid

Thailand: Output from new plant added to national electricity grid

The Klongluang power plant, a wholly owned subsidiary of Electricity
Generating or Egco Group, successfully started its commercial operation to
supply electricity to the national grid since July 20. This Egco small power
producer (SPP) project will constantly generate more revenue for Egco with
its earnings to be realised beginning with the third quarter of this year.

The plant, situated in Klong Nueng subdistrict, Klongluang district, Pathum
Thani province, is driven by the cogeneration system and fuelled by natural
gas. It has the total installed capacity of 121 megawatts (MW), comprising
two gas turbines producing 47MW each and a 27MW stream turbine. It sells its
90MW electricity output to Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
(Egat) under a 25year power purchase deal, while the rest of the output will
be sold to industrial users.

As of July 2017, Egco Group runs 27 operating power plants with total equity
contracted capacity of 4,352MW in five countries across Asia Pacific region
- Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. There are five
projects under construction with total equity contracted capacity of 750MW.
The company's power plants generate electricity using diverse fuel sources,
including natural gas, coal, biomass, waste, hydro, solar, wind and

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John Diecker
APT Consulting Group Co., Ltd.