International Report: Lamtakong Pump Storage Power Station

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New year has finally arrived and many of us have probably set new goals for 2016, whether it be finishing that book you started ages ago or finally signing up for that theater class. Mine was to finally finish the blog post of my journey to Thailand.

by Vanda Friedrichs

This time it is about a pump storage power station, about four hours northeast of Bangkok. The power station is next to the hydroelectric power station of the Lamtakong Dam that has an installed capacity of about 500 MW. To put that into perspective, that is the power of about 200 average-sized wind turbines. The pump storage station, as the name suggests, pumps water up to a reservoir to store energy, which can then be used at a later time. It is like a very big water battery for a country.

It works like this: during peak hours (when people use a lot of electricity, which is usually during the day), the pump station lets the water from an upper reservoir run down a mountain through turbines to generate the needed electricity. While during the night, when energy demand is low, electricity from the transmission lines (electrical grid) is used to pump the water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir.  It looks like this:

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SOURCE: Lamtakong Power Station. Power Point by: Mr. Graiwuthi Watropruegs (ไกรวุฒิ วัชรพฤกษ์), 23 September 2015.

This pump storage station has the same installed capacity as the actual hydroelectric dam itself at 500 MW. In 2017, this figure will double and Lamtakong storage station will have a total installed capacity of 1,000 MW.

The power house that is located underground has five levels. The first level is the entrance level, where the control room is. The level below that houses the generators. There are two of them installed at the moment at 250 MW each. The next level below the generators is where the motor shaft is located (the long metal stick that turns the part of the generator to produce electricity). The Francis turbine/pump situated in the 4th level spins due to the water from the last level of the power house.

The workers there told us that the pump storage power station uses slightly more energy from the grid than it produces and that this was to be expected. The power station serves as a large battery, which saves the excess energy that would otherwise be lost, as no one is using it at night. So in a way, this large battery helps avoid bigger losses.

Now, to make things more interesting, it’s time for pictures!

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This is the entrance to the underground power house.
Here you can see the lower reservoir and the dam.
Here you can see the lower reservoir and the dam. SOURCE: Lamtakong Power Station Power Point by: Mr. Graiwuthi Watropruegs (ไกรวุฒิ วัชรพฤกษ์), 23 September 2015.
The upper reservoir of the pump storage looks more like a large pool (SOURCE: Lamtakong Power Station Power Point by: Mr. Graiwuthi Watropruegs (ไกรวุฒิ วัชรพฤกษ์), 23 September 2015).
The upper reservoir of the pump storage looks more like a large pool. SOURCE: Lamtakong Power Station. Power Point by: Mr. Graiwuthi Watropruegs (ไกรวุฒิ วัชรพฤกษ์), 23 September 2015.
The power house on the entrance level.
The power house on the entrance level.

There is even a photo of my mother and I in the room of the motor shaft with Mr. Panu Suwicharcherdchoo (to the left) and his college Mr. Prawat Plaincharoen.

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And finally, a picture at the entrance of the power house with Mr. Panu Suwicharcherdchoo (far left), Mr. Sirichai Lemlaor and Mr. Prawat Plaincharoen to the far right, who were so kind to show us around. And not to forget, their awesome coworker who photobombs us on the right.

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