Current Nuclear Energy Policy in Thailand

Sean Lee
May 19, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018


Fig. 1: Oil balance for Thailand. [5] (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Thailand has been slow to adopt nuclear power as a core or even supplementary energy source. However, continued growth in the population and economy, as well as that in the wider region of Southeast Asia, has changed this position. New plans in Thailand call for the adoption of nuclear power facilities no later than 2020, since delayed to 2023. [1] Demand for energy has been such that the anticipated capacity of the new generating station or stations has to date been revised upward twice. In this, Thailand has joined many of its regional neighbors and rivals in the market for energy generation in developing concrete plans for nuclear energy. This includes policies to safeguard these energy sources, and to ensure their security. The plan to go nuclear has been criticized by some scholars, the public and other figures in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. [2]

Nuclear Power Plants in Thailand: A Bad Idea?

Whilst the construction of nuclear power plants meant less reliance on outside sources for energy, the new introduction posed two dizzying problems. First, the scarcity of already-existing energy in Thailand fuel, natural gas, and coal would be an issue, hindering maintenance of the energy plants; the energy sources for electricity in Thailand required to run the power plant gas and oil is heavily tied to imports from other countries (Fig. 1). [3] Another school of thought raised by those opposing the construction was the environmental effect of the power plants, the overarching concern being the emissions of toxic gases like CO2, SOx, and NOx into the atmosphere. [3]

Thailand's Power Development Plan

Fig. 2: Natural gas balance for Thailand. [5] (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The introduction of nuclear-energy generating stations within Thailand requires significant preparatory work to develop necessary infrastructure. The plan calls for four distinct phases of development, currently ongoing, between 2007 and 2020, the target year for operations. An additional plan appeared in 2010, which included a time horizon to 2030. Development of nuclear infrastructure was delayed 3 years in this plan in response to a purported decline in public trust of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. [3]

Governance of Nuclear Power Generation in Thailand

Governance, planning and security of nuclear power generation in the country is overseen by a number of agencies including the government. [4] Thailand first and only nuclear reactor, TRR-1 is operated by Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology which is led by Ministry of Science and Technology and Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP). [4] The OAP operates as the nuclear regulator and is supervised by Nuclear Energy Agency for Peace Commission; the Commission is chaired by the Prime Minister and deals with nuclear licensing and safety. [4]

© Sean Lee. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. Kamsamrong, and C. Sorapipatana, "An Assessment of Energy Security in Thailand's Power Generation," Sust. Energy Technol. Assess. 7, 45 (2014)

[2] B. Shoram et al., "Critical Analysis of Thailand's Past Energy Policies Towards the Development of a New Energy Policy," Energy Effic. 11, 713 (2018).

[3] P Pongsoi and S. Wongwises, "A Review on Nuclear Power Plant Scenario in Thailand," Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 24, 586 (2013).

[4] N. A. Putra, "The Dynamics of Nuclear Energy Among ASEAN Member States," Energy Procedia 143, 585 (2017).

[5] "BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017," British Petroleum, June 2017.