On 26 October the IEA CCC ExCo meeting concluded with a visit to the BLCP power plant in Rayong Province, Thailand. It is a 1434 MW (2 x 717 MW unit) plant which was completed in 2007. This subcritical power plant burns bituminous coal imported from Australia and Indonesia. All the electricity produced is sold to EGAT. BLCP is on an industrial estate next to a petrochemical complex. The power plant was built on reclaimed land in the Gulf of Thailand. The coal terminal for the plant can take vessels up to cape-size. BLCP has a 25 year coal supply contract with ACH/Rio Tinto in Australia and a 25 year power purchase agreement with EGAT.
The community work undertaken by BLCP is of particular interest. In the 1970s and 1980s some lignite plants without FGD operated in a valley in Thailand. The resulting acid rain became a major local issue and lingers in the public memory. So, Banpu and the Electricity Generating of Thailand Public Company Ltd, the owners of BLCP have put extensive efforts into public acceptance and community outreach. Funds are allocated for the community near the power plant and there is a Tripartite Committee made up of the power plant management team, local government and the community. The Committee meets 3-4 times a year to discuss any issues about the operation of the BLCP power plant. By September, there had been 3 meetings this year with over 2600 participants.
Only bituminous coal is used with a low sulphur content. The annual average sulphur content is 0.45%. In addition, FGD is in place. Other pollution control measures include low NOx burners, ESP for the fly ash and a 200 m high stack. CEM is in place on the stack and there are four air quality monitors in the local community. Emissions of particulate matter, SO2 and NOx from BLCP are lower than standards set by the World Bank and those of the Thai government. There are various measures to minimise dust escape, including wind barriers round the coal stockpiles, a covered conveyor system, and a water spray system. There is also a focus on water quality. All the water used is treated before release, and fresh water is not released into the sea.
A public participation programme has been running since 2001. There have been over 52,000 visitors to the power plant since it opened and BLCP run extensive education programmes and encourage discussion. The Kiang Saket Energy Center at the power plant has an auditorium to facilitate outreach and is the base for their education and outreach programmes.
The community is further involved with the BLCP power plant. For example, job opportunities have been created in waste management. There is a fly ash cement blocks programme and all the 360,000 tonnes of ash produced each year is sold. A sea mussel hanging farm has been established in the sea next to the plant. The BLCP plant also supports conservation work and is involved with a mangrove restoration programme.
The BLCP plant is a reliable source of electricity for Thailand, and the owners, Banpu and EGCO Group, have put considerable thought and effort into successful public outreach to explain the role of coal in modern power plants and to make it more acceptable.