Thailand has announced its plans to promote the country as the power trade hub of Southeast Asia. To do so, the country would triple the amount of electricity it buys from Laos and then resell it to other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Laos generates more energy than it requires from its dams along the Mekong River and its tributaries. Thailand plans to acquire the additional electricity generated in Laos for its own national grid. It will result in a surplus in its own power grid which the country will resell.
Wattanapong Kurovat, director-general of the country’s energy policy and planning office told the media, “We’re trying to move quickly to become the center of the region’s power grid. We already have the capacity and the infrastructure to support the vision to become the regional hub.”
While the initial idea of the project is more than 20 years old, lack of coordination between governments and funding have delayed the project for so many years.
Currently, Laos’ power demand stands at 1000 megawatts. But it is expected to take advantage of its natural resources and produce around 20,000 to 30,000 megawatts in the near future. So far, Malaysia has been buying 100 megawatts from Laos through Thailand but the number is expected to increase. Thailand also supplies electricity to bordering towns in Cambodia and Myanmar. But for Thailand to become a power trade hub, the country must develop interconnected grids as well as its existing infrastructure as well.
By 2037, Thailand expects to meet 25 percent of its power needs from biomass and solar plants. It also plans to double its renewable energy production and reduce the amount of electricity generated from coal and natural gas.
Earlier this month, Thailand’s energy ministry announced that it would improve high-voltage transmission lines across the country to open regional power trading and sale of surplus electricity.