Laos, Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to expand a trilateral power deal, under which Lao electricity will be sold to the Malaysians via the Thai grid, Thailand’s minister of energy said.
“Thailand, Laos and Malaysia achieved a new purchase deal, raising the capacity from 100 to 300 megawatts,” Sontirat Sontijirawong, Thailand’s minister of energy, told a news conference during during a four-day meeting of energy ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that wrapped up in Bangkok on Thursday.
“It is a model project of ASEAN grid connectivity. We agreed to officially sign the contract soon,” he said.
The three countries have yet to formally sign off on the deal, but he said they had agreed to the expansion.
The first phase of the agreement known as the Lao PDR, Thailand, Malaysia – Power Integration Project (LTM-PIP), was implemented in early 2018 and is set to transition to a second phase, starting in January 2020, the minister said. Under the new agreement, Laos will increase the amount of electricity its sells to Malaysia via Thailand, from 100 MW to 300 MW.
Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, and Khammany Inthirath, the Lao minister of Energy and Mines, took part in the talks with Sontirat in Bangkok.
“This cooperation will be a stepping stone to further grid connection. Now we have Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. In the future, we will have Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia joining the next phases,” Sontirat said.
According to the Thai minister, Thailand and Myanmar were also studying a 250-MW power connection plan because, he said, Myanmar needed to boost its supply of electricity as part of its economic development. Myanmar’s current supply meets 50 percent of its electricity needs, he said.
In order to protect the environment and reduce global warming, Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency and ASEAN Center of Energy on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in finding alternative sources for producing electricity, such as solar power and wind power, to replace fossil fuel or coals.
“The signing is aimed at pushing ASEAN to use renewable, alternative energies from 14 to 23 percent by 2025,” Sontirat said. “ASEAN is moving toward clean energies … to help reduce global warming.”
The trilateral deal between Thailand, Malaysia and Laos is part of a plan by Thailand to become a hub in efforts to creating a regional grid, Wattanapong Kurovat, the director-general of the Thai government’s energy policy and planning office, said last month, according to Bloomberg News.
“We’re trying to move quickly to become the center of the region’s power grid,” Wattanapong told Bloomberg news agency. “We already have the capacity and the infrastructure to support the vision to become the regional hub.”
Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister entity of BenarNews, contributed to this report.