‘Battery of Southeast Asia’ Plans Move Forward as Laos Enhances Trade Capacity With Cambodia

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Battery of Asia Plans Continue as Laos Enhances Trade Capacity With Cambodia
Hydropower dam in Laos. (Photo: Reglobal)

Laos and Cambodia have reiterated their commitment to enhancing energy trade between the two countries, following the establishment of a 500-kilovolt transmission line in the southern Champasack province of Laos to the border with Cambodia.

The agreement to further commit to enhancing energy trade came as Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone met with Cambodia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Keo Rattanak, during his visit to the country on 13 January.

Laos currently supplies energy to Cambodia via a 115-kilovolt transmission line between Champasack Province, in Laos, and Stung Treng Province, in Cambodia. With the implementation of the new 500-kilovolt line, the transfer of energy is expected to become more efficient.

At present, Cambodia imports around 445 MW of electricity from Laos, with the aim of reaching 6,000 MW by 2030. The country currently imports 25 percent of its electricity from Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

The push for further electricity trade between the two nations emerges as Laos positions itself to become the “battery of Southeast Asia,” while Cambodia enhances efforts to meet electricity demand as the economy rapidly expands.

As of 2022, Laos has 94 power plants, including 81 hydroelectric dams, with a total installed capacity of more than 11,600 MW. By 2039, the country expects to generate an additional 5,559 MW of electricity, with 77.59 percent of the capacity coming from hydropower.

Although Laos relies heavily on electricity from hydropower dams, the country is also integrating other forms of renewable energy.

On 9 November 2023, Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone officially inaugurated the Monsoon Wind Power Project in Sekong Province. Upon completion, the project will be the largest wind farm in SEA and will have a capacity of 600 MW. 

The initiative, which is to be implemented in mountainous areas of Dak Cheung district, consists of 133 turbines, which will be spread over 1,000 hectares of concession land in Sekong Province. The project is set to be completed by December 2025.