Fang geothermal plant in Chiang Mai, model for more to come in Thailand?

Fang geothermal plant, Chiang Mai, Thailand (source: Helmut Duerrast, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 11 Sep 2016

A recent TV piece from Thailand shows the country's only geothermal power plant in Chiang Mai, in the north of the country. Thailand with mostly low enthalpy resources, has the potential to make use of its resources for smaller scale development for power generation and direct use.

Thailand has been seeking to diversify from its currently fossil fuel based power generation towards more renewable energy power generation.

Geothermal is one of the option and in a recent piece by a local TV station, some footage shows the Fang/ Chiang Mai geothermal plant in the province of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

The plant started operation in December 1989. The development was a joint technical cooperation project between the BRGM, Geowatt of France and EGAT formulated during 1981-1984. The purpose was to model geothermal reservoir and to appraise geothermal enthalpy targeting for electrical generation.

The plant is using binary cycle technology. “The inlet vaporizer temperature, after passing through air released tank, varies between 115 to 120 degrees Celsius and the temperature of the hot water released from vaporizer outlet is approximately 80 degrees Celsius (Korjedee and Prasatkhetwittaya, 1997). The thermal waters released from the power plant, since these are very clean, are planned to be exploited downstream for non-electrical utilizations and will be discussed later. Output from the 300 kW plant is connected to the local distribution grid system of the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and provided 1.2 million kWh annually.” (M. Raksakulwong, 2015)

There is though limited potential for large scale geothermal utilisation for power generation, as geothermal resources in Thailand are “classified into low-medium enthalpy. Hot spring manifestation in northern Thailand provides higher potential than in the other part. Many expert teams point out that there are suitable possibilities for small scale power plant i.e. 1-10 MWe.”

High oil prices saw increased interest in geothermal utilisation in 2010-2014 and there is some research ongoing to explore opportunities to develop geothermal power plants sized 1-5 MWe.

See the video on StarTV, link below.

Source: StarTV; Raksaskulwong, Manop, “Update on Geothermal Utilizations in Thailand (WGC 2015)”