Thailand plans to be the Asian hub of wind power by 2022, to achieve this, it need to attract international investors and increase its output from 5 mega watts to over 500 mega watts in that time. Wind farms on a large scale are new to Thailand, even though the first power turbine was built in 1983 to study wind energy. Several projects have been abandoned for various reasons, how ever there have been some successful projects over the years. In 1992 a pilot wind turbine was built off Phuket in the Phromthep Strait, this was an achievement for Thailand in the day, producing 180 kilowatts (kWh). Soon after, 45 smaller wind turbines were built and operated on Lan Island off Pattaya. Since then many isolated wind generators have been built, maturing into an industry in its own right in Thailand.
Now the largest Thai wind project is well under way in Nakhon Ratchasima Province
(Korat), with the first deliveries of 90 enormous wind turbines from China this week. These have been built by the German company Siemens which is a world leader in wind technology. The scale of these are mind boggling, their 3 blades make up rotors that have a diameter of 101 meters. They are assembled from 36 heavy pieces that are delivered by ships from China. All the components are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2012. The wind farms should be commissioned and operational by late 2013 if all goes to plan. This will then be largest wind farm in South East Asia that will fed directly into EGAT’s grid.
It is interesting that these are not coastal to take advantage of coastal sea breezes, this maybe an effort to keep them isolated from population centres, but since when has irritating noise pollution ever been considered in Thailand? Maybe things are changing. The Government Public Relations Department seem to be confused and contradict the reasons for the location from a feasibility study, however, one would at least expect that the investors and consultants have done due diligence regarding average wind speed and a massive project of this scale would be well researched.
The Thai Government has generous subsidies for the operators of these wind farms. On top of the normal tariff they get 4.5Baht/kWh for smaller farms that produce less than 50 mega watts and 3.5Baht/kWh for the large projects. This is why the large projects are often broken down into smaller farms.
The main thing is that it is defiantly a huge step in the right direction for Thailand that imports the massive majority of its energy needs, mainly natural gas to run electricity plants that are prone to price fluctuations and supply issues. Other green projects including large solar farms and hydro are also being built. Hopefully these alternative projects are successful to take the pressure of Thailand to acquire a nuclear power plant that many vested interest are lobbying for or reliance on imported energy.