NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR (21 Sept. 2016) — Lao PDR, Thailand and Malaysia have signed a landmark agreement that will enable Laos to share hydropower-generated electricity with Thailand and Malaysia.
Top energy officials from Lao PDR, Thailand and Malaysia signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday at the 34th Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
Officials hailed the agreement as the first multilateral power trade to be implemented under the ASEAN Power Grid Initiative.
Under the agreement, Malaysia will buy up to 100 MW of power from Laos, to be transmitted through Thailand’s national power grid.
The MoU was signed by Lao Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphonh Viravong, Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, and Thai Energy Minister Gen. Anataporn Kanjanarat.
A joint statement said the initiative is aimed at enhancing energy security in ASEAN through the establishment of a network of interconnections between the three member states. “It is also hoped that this pilot project will pave the way for other multilateral power trading in ASEAN as a means to enhance energy security in the region,” the statement said.
Minister Viraphonh said: “Of course, there is more work to be done, and many more details to be ironed out. However, we believe our hard work will pay off, billions of dollars will be saved, and our people will benefit for decades to come.”
The vice minister thanked the many government employees and technical experts who worked out details. “Your Governments, the various Departments within your Ministries, and the experts provided by your electric utility companies — like our own Electricité du Laos — are to be congratulated,” he said.
It is anticipated that the power integration project will be extended to Singapore.
“While Singapore is not a party to this MoU, we salute Singapore for the support and expertise given over many months and many meetings," Mr Viraponh said. "Together we will make the dream of sharing clean energy over three national grids — from Laos to Singapore — a reality.”
Among the Lao officials present at the signing were Dr Daovong Phonekeo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and Mr BounOum Syvanpheng, Managing Director of EDL-Gen.
In a separate session, Lao and Myanmar officials discussed an MoU calling for the two countries’ national utilities to conduct feasibility studies on how they can optimise benefits from power sharing. A small amount of power is already exchanged in the Lao-Myanmar border area.
Earlier in the day, Vice Minister Viraphonh told AMEM delegates that Laos can produce far more clean, green, renewable energy than it can use. “Laos is keen to promote power trades in ways everyone can benefit. We are unapologetic about building dams and developing all of our abundant hydropower resource as rapidly and responsibly as possible,” he said. “We urge you to further the momentum for ASEAN power sharing by establishing high-voltage interconnections between national grids.
Speaking on behalf of senior leaders on energy from the ASEAN states, Myanmar’s U Htein Lwin said development of renewable energy technologies will help address the challenges of sustainable energy growth, and reduce greenhouse gas emission as climate change impacts the region.