Thai governments have seriously considered nuclear power development proposals on a number of occasions in the past four decades – most notably in the 1970s and 1990s. A first round of nuclear power generation development was attempted in the 1970s, with an IAEA approved site selected at Bhai Bay in Chonburi province, with a view to building a 350-50 MW BWR facility. Planning revived in the mid-2000s, and in 2007 the Ministry of Energy announced plans for four 1,000 MW plants. Thailand has a 2 MW Research Reactor (TRR-1/M1), and a number of smaller nuclear research facilities.
Chronology (Source: Thailand Goes Nuclear – Considerations and Costs, Sheila Bijoor, Palang Thai, 13 August 2007)
1966: Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) proposes Thailand’s first nuclear project.
1974: Bhai Bay, Chonburi, 350-500 MW, proposal approved. Project shelved after a drop in natural gas costs.
1977: EGAT re-proposes and government approves. Global and public opposition leads to cancellation.
1993: Office of Atomic Energy and Peace (OAEP) proposes research reactor (5-10 MW) in Ongkarak.
1993-2003: Ongkarak plans halted multiple times due to safety and environmental problems. US-based General Atomics, contracted to build, threatens legal action for stall in plans. 2
2007: National Power Development Plan (PDP) calls for nuclear energy by 2020. EGAT to invest six billion dollars to build 4,000 MW nuclear power plant.
Thailand: Nuclear Energy Handbook, IAEA
Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology
Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) is a governmental public organization responsible for carrying out nuclear research and development programmes of the country. We also provide education services to the public on the matters relating to nuclear utilization. TINT works closely, but independently, with the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP), the nuclear regulatory body of Thailand and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Status of Thailand’s Nuclear Program, Somporn Chongkum, Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology, May 2008 [PPT, 12 MB]
Thailand’s Preparation for Starting Nuclear Power, Pricha Karasuddhi, Nuclear Power Program Development Office, Ministry of Energy, 2008
Thailand’s Energy Policies, Piyasvasti Amranand, Ministry of Energy, 6 September 2007
Office of Atoms for Peace, Ministry of Science and Technology, Kingdom of Thailand
1. To be the Secretariat of the Atomic Energy for Peace Commission (Thai AEC)
2. To regulate safety utilizations of radiation and nuclear materials.
3. To co-ordinate formulation of national policy and strategic plans on peaceful utilization of atomic energy.
4. To co-ordinate and support national security relevant to atomic energy issues.
5. To co-ordinate and carry out commitments and obligations with international organizations and with foreign institutes.
6. To co-ordinate and carry out technical co-operation with organizations in Thailand and abroad.
An Outlook for Introduction of Nuclear Power in Southeast Asian Countries, Yuji Matsuo, Seiji Kouno, Yomoko Murakami, IEEJ, October 2008
Thailand’s Nuclear Program, Pricha Karasudhi, Thailand Institute of Technology, 5 August 2008
Thai nuclear study to commence in July, Power Engineering, 20 June 2008
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) next month will begin the feasibility study on operating a nuclear power plant in Thailand. The study was expected to take two years to complete, said Kamol Takabut, an Egat assistant governor for power plant engineering, at the ASEAN+3 conference on nuclear energy. Five candidates have been shortlisted to conduct the study: Black & Veatch Co and Burns & Roe from the US; Newjec Inc and the Japan Atomic Power Company from Japan; and AF Colenco Co from Switzerland. The project mandate will be awarded next month. Dr Kamol said the study would review suitable sites for a plant, as well as issues dealing with environmental management and prevention, safety standards, human resources, legal and economic matters and project finance. Egat, which has considered 50 potential sites from old studies since 1982, has narrowed the list to ten and plans to create a shortlist of three. Potential sites have not been announced.
Four global giants vie to supply nuclear plants to Thailand, Bangkok Post, 11 Jan 2008
The world’s four largest nuclear technology manufacturers have expressed interest in bidding for Thailand’s proposed nuclear power project. Toshiba and Mitsubishi from Japan, Areva from France and General Electric from the US have each contacted the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) about submitting proposals to build a new nuclear plant. Kamol Takabut, Egat’s assistant governor for power plant engineering, said Candu from Canada was also keen but that its technology may cost more. GE and Toshiba, which earlier acquired 100% of Westinghouse, have offered boiling water reactor (BWR) technology that is used by 21% of the world’s 442 nuclear power plants.Mitsubishi and Areva propose the more popular pressurised water reactor (PWR) used by 60% the world’s utilities. “Both BWR and PWR require pretty much the same in terms of cost, but PWR is slightly better in terms of safety for personnel that operate the plant, so it is more popular,” Mr Kamol said.
China to consider Thai-proposed nuclear energy, road and rail links, MCOT, 3 December 2007
China will consider Thailand’s request for nuclear technology transfer and road and railway links between the two countries through Laos and Vietnam, according to Thai government spokesman Chaiya Yimwilai. The Chinese defence minister Gen Cao Gangchuan said he would discuss the issues with his country’s concerned agencies including the transfer of nuclear technology to Thailand to build a nuclear power plant.
First Thai nuclear plant expected by 2020, The Money Channel, 6 September 2007
Energy Minister Dr. Piyasavasti Amaranand said today his ministry and the Science Ministry would together try to propose a draft nuclear law to the National Legislative Assembly for consideration before the end of this year. Thailand’s first 4,000-megawatt nuclear plant is included in the 2007 Power Development Plan as an alternative source of power and is expected to be up and running by the year 2020. Piyasavasti added the Energy Ministry plans to spend the first six years preparing all construction plans including the choice of location and to take the remaining 7 years to focus on the actual construction. Yesterday the Nuclear Power Infrastructure Preparation Committee set up three working groups to study the safety of the technology technical management and economy. Head of the committee’s public communication division said the working groups were set up to follow His Majesty the King’s concern over the country’s plan to build its first nuclear power plant. The committee also approved an initial budget of 600 million baht to educate and create understanding about the nuclear power among Thai people. For the construction budget the Energy Minister said he strongly urged for the government alone to be responsible for it without any investment from the private sector.
Thailand Goes Nuclear – Considerations and Costs, Sheila Bijoor, Palang Thai, 13 August 2007
IAEA to Cooperate with Thailand’s Nuclear Power Plan, Sai Silp, The Irrawaddy, 16 July 2007
The International Atomic Energy Agency will cooperate with the Thai government’s plan to build two nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity. Thai interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said on Monday he discussed the issue of a nuclear power plant as an alternative power option with Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA director-general. In June, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) unveiled a plan to build two nuclear power plants at an estimated cost of 204 billion baht (US $6 billion). According to an energy and power development plan that will run through to 2021, it will take an estimated 13 years to complete construction of the nuclear reactors. The sites for the plants have yet to be confirmed, but Ranong, Chumphon and Surat Thani provinces on the southern coast have been cited as possible locations.
Thailand’s Nuclear Power Program, Aranee Jaiimsin, AsiaEnergy, 6 July 2007
The government needs to amend a law regarding nuclear energy development to cover power production or Thailand cannot build any nuclear power plants in the future. Only small-scale activities without military applications, such as medical treatment and food preservation, are allowed to use nuclear energy under the country’s Atomic Energy for Peace Act 2004, according to Kamol Takabut, director of the mechanical engineering division at the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat). ‘Therefore, the scope of activities must be revised to cover nuclear power plants, too,” said Dr Kamol, who is one of 10 experts in nuclear technology in Thailand. Toshiba has already presented its boiling water reactor (BWR) technology, followed by Mitsubishi with proposals for a pressurised water reactor (PWR). Currently, the committee has appointments to meet Areva of France for a PWR presentation in September. After that it will meet GE for a BWR demonstration and a Russian company offering PWR technology. Investment costs for building a nuclear power plant total US$2,000 per kilowatt, so Thailand roughly would need $8 billion to build two nuclear power plants by 2021, noted Dr Kamol. Nuclear power plants should be located adjacent to beaches. The committee says places with huge potential include Ao Phai in Chon Buri; Ban Bangberd, Ban Lamthaen and Ban Lamyang in Prachuap Khiri Khan; Ban Thongching in Chumphon; and Ban Klongmuang in Phuket.
Thailand’s nuclear program: 1966-1997, WISE News Communique, 30 May 1997
1966: Thailand’s first nuclear project was proposed by the state’s Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).
1974: The government approved the proposed project to be situated in Bhai Bay, Chonburi province, East Thailand, with 350- to 500-MW capacity. However the project was shelved after fluctuations in the world oil market led to a drop in costs for natural gas at that time.
1977: EGAT reiterated its proposal, stating its increased readiness to build nuclear energy plants. Again, although EGAT got government approval, prevailing global and Thai public opposition to nuclear energy led to its cancellation.
- ASEAN nuclear power debates
roject coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Arabella Imhoff
Updated: 20 April 2009