Singapore to trial import of renewable hydropower from Laos in cross-border power trade deal

The move to import renewable energy is crucial in helping Singapore meet its climate goals. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Republic will begin trialling the import of renewable hydropower from Laos via Thailand and Malaysia, following an agreement between Keppel Electric and Electricite Du Laos (EDL) announced on Wednesday (Sept 15).

The exclusive framework agreement between the two is part of the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP), an inter-government project to study the feasibility of cross-border power trade from Laos to Singapore.

Keppel Electric, a subsidiary of Keppel Infrastructure Holdings, and EDL aim to jointly explore opportunities to import renewable energy into Singapore through this partnership.

EDL will export and Keppel will import up to 100MW of renewable hydropower from Laos to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia using existing interconnectors.

The trial electricity supply is expected to commence once all technical, commercial, legal and regulatory arrangements are finalised with the governments of the four Asean member countries and following the execution of a binding power purchase agreement between Keppel Electric and EDL.

This is likely to be in 2022.

The move to import renewable energy is crucial in helping Singapore meet its climate goals. Currently, more than 95 per cent of energy in the Republic is generated from burning natural gas, a fossil fuel that releases planet-warming carbon dioxide when burned.

The Government has said that Singapore faces constraints in reducing emissions from the energy sector, as the country lacks land for large solar farms, and because it lacks access to other forms of renewable energy.

Imported electricity, however, will help Singapore overcome these constraints by tapping its neighbours' renewable energy sources from the winds and tides, for instance.

The Government had also mentioned before that in the longer term, Singapore could potentially tap emerging low-carbon technologies, such as using hydrogen as a fuel or deploying carbon capture utilisation and storage to "suck" planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air. However, such tech is still in the early stages.

At the sidelines of the two-day 39th Asean Ministers on Energy Meeting that began on Wednesday, Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr Tan See Leng, chaired the 2nd Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Ministerial Meeting between the Energy Ministers of Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

All four countries reaffirmed their commitment to the LTMS-PIP, noting that it is a major milestone in enhancing Asean power connectivity.

Dr Tan noted that he is heartened to see Asean member states continue to take active steps together to accelerate the region's energy transition efforts towards a more sustainable energy future for all.

He added that Singapore is committed to realising multilateral power trade in the region through the LTMS-PIP, which is a significant step towards the vision of an Asean power grid.

He said: "This will help create a multilateral cross-border market for electricity trading, promote investments and facilitate the development and deployment of low-carbon solutions in the region.

"At the same time, it will enhance regional electricity supply security and resilience, while supporting Singapore's energy transition."

The latest developments on cross-border power trade comes after an announcement in October last year that Singapore would be importing electricity from Malaysia in a pilot trial over two years.

The trial would see the import of 100MW, which makes up about 1.5 per cent of Singapore's peak electricity demand.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.