Myanmar will temporarily cut gas supplies in April, causing possible power cuts here; it’s time for Thailand to get serious about alternative energy and sustainable consumption habits

Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal will today call an urgent meeting to consider emergency measures to cope with a possible electricity supply shortage in April, when Myanmar temporarily suspends its natural gas supply to Thailand during the Songkran festival.

Pongsak warned that a shortage may result in power cuts in some areas, since Myanmar supplies roughly 20 per cent of the natural gas consumed in Thailand. However, some energy experts say the suspension of the natural gas supply from Myanmar should not result in power cuts because Thailand has sufficient reserves.

Nonetheless, the possible shortage should prompt the government and private sector to undertake planning to diversify sources of power. In addition, the government should initiate a campaign to raise awareness about energy conservation and efficient use. This will have the added benefit of saving money on imported energy.

Myanmar will suspend the supply of natural gas from the Yadana gas field from April 4-12 while maintenance work is under way. The reaction here shows that Thailand’s planning to cope with unexpected incidents such as this is inadequate.

The timing of the suspension comes at an inopportune time. In April, energy consumption peaks due to the extremely hot weather. The Electricity Generating Authority forecasts that consumption could peak at 27,000 megawatts, compared to 26,000 megawatts in April last year.

The suspension of service from Yadana will remove 6,000 megawatts from the grid, severely affecting homes, factories and businesses in western Thailand. The Ratchaburi Power Plant, for instance, will likely have to switch to other fuel sources, such as bunker oil. Power supply warning should be a wake-up call – The Nation

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