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ASEAN Power Grid: Catalyst for Cambodia’s Renewable Energy Ambitions

by Surya Narayan
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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reaffirmed its commitment to Cambodia’s renewable energy initiatives, particularly the development of the ASEAN Power Grid (APG), during a meeting with Keo Rattanak, Cambodia’s Minister of Mines and Energy. This support is in line with enhancing green energy security across the ASEAN region.

ADB’s Executive Director, Rachel Thompson, lauded Cambodia’s leadership for its progressive policies in energy and mining. The discussions underscored the importance of the APG in Cambodia’s strategy to transition away from coal and towards renewable energy sources.

The APG is central to the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan, designed to establish a seamless regional power interconnection, starting with bilateral links and eventually evolving into a fully integrated ASEAN power grid. This initiative has seen practical applications with existing connections like the Singapore-Malaysia and Thailand-Malaysia links. A notable advancement was Singapore’s commencement of renewable energy imports from Laos, passing through Thailand and Malaysia, marking a historic four-nation electricity trade within ASEAN.

This project is pivotal for attracting private sector investments, facilitating financing, and enabling technology transfers. Energy experts, including Natharoun Ngo Son from EnergyLab, highlighted the potential benefits for Cambodia, such as job creation and the opportunity to become a net energy exporter due to its abundant solar resources.

Dean Rizzetti of EnergyLab emphasized Cambodia’s vast solar and wind energy potential, advocating for improved grid interconnections to leverage these renewable resources more effectively.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has outlined the challenges ASEAN faces in energy transition, including escalating demand and a significant investment gap. With ASEAN being a major energy consumer, the need for a rapid transition to greener energy sources is paramount, especially given the rising carbon emissions.

Cambodia’s ‘Power Development Plan (PDP) 2022-2040’ aligns with these regional goals, proposing a significant increase in the share of renewable energy, particularly solar power, which is expected to surge by 800 percent by 2040. This ambitious plan also includes increases in hydropower and biomass energy, contributing to Cambodia’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 and exemplifying the region’s collective effort towards sustainable energy solutions.

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