MYANMAR is likely to be the fifth Asean country to sign up for the Asean Power Grid formed by Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, energy ministers have said.
“We had long discussions with our Myanmar counterparts,” said Laos Vice Minister for Energy and Mines Viraphonh Vilavong. “They are keen to join. I expect that to be quite soon.”
Viraphonh on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Thai Energy Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat and Malaysian counterpart Johnity Ongkili that would allow the transportation of electricity.
Singapore, the originator of the LTMS (Lao-Thai—Malaysia-Singapore) grid delayed the signing but Viraphonh said he is confident the richest among Asean countries would ink it soon. “They require time for the process to go through.”
The signing that Asean ministers hailed as a “milestone” paves the way for future exchange of goods and services across Asean borders.
“The beauty of it is all the infrastructure is already built and operating. Existing grids allow transmission to be done today without any additional cost,” the Lao minister said.
Myanmar has a 350-kilometre border with Laos. Its fast development requires that it cut back gas sales to Thailand while requiring cheap power from Laos.
Virphonh is a proponent of clean energy and Laos’ power, which comes from water, is the region’s cheapest.
At the same time, Energy Minister Anantaporn headed a Thai delegation that swept the annual Asean Energy Awards hosted by Myamar.
The Kingdom took 16 of the 42 awards, followed by Malaysia with 10, Singapore with 9 and Indonesia with 8.
Huacheiw Chalermprakiat University president Professor Prachak Poomvises said he was honoured to be among the winners. “Our campus has long been employing green and energy conservation systems to save resources,” he said.
Other Thai winners included CP Foods, CP All, SCG, The Mall, Thaioil, Eastern Power, TPC, Chol Chan, Thaniya Park and Thai Bev.
This year’s awards went mainly to small and medium-sized firms instead of large corporations that dominated last year’s event. A special category for “clean coal” was created last year as a bi-annual event.
Thailand is the largest buyer of Laos’ energy but the growing economies of Myanmar and Vietnam will mean demand will rise. The agreement allows Thailand to sell surplus power as well.
The deal represents a push for regional cooperation to enhance connectivity and sharing of resources, said the ministers.
The three neighbouring countries will transmit up to 100 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Laos, which will be transmitted on existing grids that pass through Thailand.
The agreement kicked off the “first phase” of a power-trading scheme that will eventually include Singapore as well as Myanmar and other countries in the bloc.