Thailand forging energy connectivity as ASEAN chair

Already a partner in nine of the region’s 15 cross-border energy projects, Thailand is promoting energy interconnectedness and regional solutions to energy needs and climate change during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an energy researcher wrote last week.

“As an ASEAN hub, Thailand is positioned to take a leading role in regional power interconnection,” wrote Nadhila Shani, an energy policy analyst at the ASEAN Center for Energy, in a column published by the Bangkok Post newspaper. “Considering Thailand’s strong vision, it is timely for it to lead ASEAN to a sustainable and dynamic future with the theme Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.”

Thailand has long been an advocate of constructing a regional power grid that would provide much-needed electricity to the less developed nations, while also ensuring energy security for all the countries in the 10-country regional organization.

The Kingdom is also making a concerted effort at achieving energy sustainability by adopting more renewable sources of power and lowering its carbon emissions. Thailand is already the leader in ASEAN in producing electricity from solar and wind generation. The latest plan by the Thai government is for producing 20.7 gigawatts of renewable power in 2037, which would account for 35 percent of the country’s total power capacity.

“There is no better time than now for ASEAN to move as a unit, as stronger partnerships are key to solving not only national but also regional energy challenges,’’ Shani wrote.

Aside from the nine bilateral power interconnection projects Thailand is already involved in nine power transmission projects, the Kingdom is also involved in half of the 26 future interconnection projects in the region.

“Interconnection is crucial in achieving the regional target of 23 percent renewables share by 2025. Progress in connectivity will only happen if ASEAN puts partnership as a priority,” Shani wrote.

“Thailand could set an example for the rest of ASEAN. Thailand is well-positioned as a front-runner in bringing renewable energy in the region. With roughly 3 gigawatts of solar-installed capacity – which is still higher than the total solar capacity from the rest of ASEAN combined,” she added.

“Thailand’s commitment and actions could motivate all ASEAN to follow the sustainable energy pathway,” Shani wrote.