PM okays guidelines for community-based power plants

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Guidelines for community-based power plants were approved by a meeting of the National Energy Policy Committee (NEPC) chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday.

The scheme aims to boost the grassroots economy by promoting plants powered by biomass, refuse-derived fuels and solar panels under joint investment by community enterprises and private investors.

Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow announced the NEPC had okayed guidelines for the pilot project targeting capacity of 150 megawatts, half generated from biomass and half from biogas. Each biomass plant will generate no more than 6MW and each biogas plant no more than 3MW, with commercial operation starting no more than 36 months after signing the agreement.

The government will purchase the electricity via Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Project proposals by private companies must incorporate benefit-sharing, such as a 10 per cent stake for community enterprises that grow energy crops for power plants. The operator and the community have to reach an agreement to benefit community development and social welfare such as public health, utilities, education, etc.

The NEPC also approved guidelines for spending the Bt6.5-billion Energy Conservation Promotion Fund (ENCON Fund) in 2021, in line with an October 30 resolution by the Fund Committee for Promotion of Energy Conservation. The fund committee shall have the power to improve guidelines, criteria, conditions, and allocation of funds.

Bt2.2 billion of the Bt6.5-billion budget will be spent on projects to conserve energy in SMEs, buildings, homes, transport sectors, farm business, and modern agriculture. Bt2.4 billion will go to the Energy Conservation Promotion and Renewable Energy Foundation.