Thailand Government eyes Khmer power plans

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, sixth from left, with Asean energy ministers as he presides over the 37th Asean Ministers on Energy Meeting (Amem) at a hotel in Bangkok’s Pathumwan district to drive discussions on effective energy management and energy stability for the region. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand Government eyes Khmer power plans

Cambodia looks to boost capacity here

5 September 2019

Thailand will on Thursday discuss with Cambodia the issue involving the energy-rich overlapping marine territory claimed by both countries on the sidelines of the ongoing meeting of Asean energy ministers, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong says.

The Energy Ministry will be in talks with Cambodia over the matter to find ways to cooperate for mutual benefit, Mr Sontirat said. Thailand is hosting the 37th Asean Ministers on Energy Meeting (Amem) and associated meetings in Bangkok. The five-day gathering on the theme “Advancing Energy Transition through Partnership and Innovation” ends on Friday.

The meeting is aimed at discussing energy collaborations among Asean states, dialogue partners and international energy organisations to achieve energy security, affordability and sustainability in the region. While Cambodia’s economy is growing with increasing demand for electricity, Thailand has surplus electricity generation. The countries will have to discuss measures to respond to each other’s needs, Mr Sontirat said, adding Cambodia has plans to expand its electricity-production capacity in Thailand and Thailand is ready for joint investment.

Initially, Cambodia has expressed interest in buying electricity from Thailand and investing in a coal-fired power station in Koh Kong to supply electricity to Cambodia, Mr Sontirat said, adding the coal-fired power plant will be located near the border. The project will give parties from Thailand — such as the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and national oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc — an opportunity to co-invest, Mr Sontirat said.

He also said he has been informed that PTT is also interested in expanding its electricity business in other neighbouring countries such as Myanmar. The government is ready to promote the Thai private sector to pursue business growth in the region with a target to support a regional power grid connection. Also, Asean has a plan to increase the use of renewable energy by 23% in 2025 in the region while Thailand has also set an increasing target of 30% for renewable energy use, the energy minister said.

He added Thailand has its sights set on becoming a leader in the production of renewable energy — particularly derived from farm crops — as efforts are under way to push for the One Community, One Alternative Energy policy. The Energy Ministry will present the matter to the National Energy Policy Committee next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Asean is expected to face challenges in the energy sector as energy is crucial to development. Each country’s energy use and production will now be determined by their abilities to adapt to the energy challenges of the particular circumstances of their respective countries, Gen Prayut said in his opening address at the meeting of Asean energy ministers.

“Right now, we are transtioning to the era of future energy and Asean’s energy consumption and demand are increasing by the day due to rapid economic and social growth. Clean and renewable energy may be the key energy source in the near future. Therefore, developing and investing in energy markets with technologies in both fossil and non-fossil energy development will be crucial to the region’s energy security,” Gen Prayut told the gathering. The prime minister also applauded the power trading project involving Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The project is aimed at enhancing energy connectivity in Southeast Asia through multilateral electricity with Laos and Malaysia, which is expected to triple electricity trading among the countries.

Gen Prayut said the project will also help increase cooperation among other members of the regional grouping if they are interested in taking part in the project, which in turn will help boost the connectivity of the Asean power grid.

The project is part of the first phase of the Asean Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation which aims to achieve regional integration and connectivity.