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Exploring Cooperation, Indonesia Brings the Spirit of Energy Security to the 43rd ASEAN Summit

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Jakarta – PT PLN (Persero) with three electricity companies from Malaysia, Laos and Thailand discussed opportunities for an electricity interconnection system between Southeast Asian countries at the 41st ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Bali. This initial assessment was carried out to support the spirit of maintaining energy security in the Southeast Asian region.

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Arifin Tasrif in his speech at the 41st AMEM explained that in the midst of achieving energy transition targets and global emission reduction, ASEAN countries agreed that energy security is above all else.

“The ASEAN energy tagline contains three pillars of energy: sustainability, security and interconnectivity. “These pillars represent our main challenges in accelerating energy connectivity to achieve sustainable ASEAN growth,” said Arifin.

Arifin also explained that the focus of the discussion in the ASEAN energy ministerial meeting this time was to create an electricity interconnection system. Because, this interconnection system can become a backbone if the electricity supply in an area is excessive, then it can be distributed according to regional needs.

“To make this happen, we will increase interconnectivity through the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) and ASEAN Power Grid (APG) for sustainable ASEAN energy,” added Arifin.

The four electricity companies at the AMEM meeting this time are the State Electricity Company (PLN), Bahan Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian electricity company, Electricite du Laos, the Lao electricity company and the Thai electricity company, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). The four of them sat together to discuss opportunities for developing an inter-country electrical interconnection system.

PLN President Director Darmawan Prasodjo in a panel discussion session explained that the interconnection system in ASEAN could bring great benefits between countries in Southeast Asia.

“The big dream of the ASEAN Power Grid is how this project can bring prosperity to Southeast Asian countries. “This dream can certainly be achieved through collaboration,” said Darmawan.

ASEAN interconnection is nothing new for PLN. Previously, Indonesia and Malaysia had made aggressive steps by connecting the Kalimantan system with Sarawak. Furthermore, PLN will also continue its collaboration with Bahan Nasional Berhad for the Sumatra-Semenanjung Malaysia interconnection and collaboration with Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd for Kalimantan-Sabah interconnection.

Even though it is not something strange, realizing an interconnection system between countries is not an easy matter, there are challenges from a policy, technical and commercial perspective. However, this challenge is not impossible if all parties have the same enthusiasm.

“The question is how we are going to put this plan into action. “We need a spirit of collaboration, unity and shared prosperity,” explained Darmawan.

Darmawan added that the enthusiasm to sit down together to realize energy security in the ASEAN region is a good step. Moreover, ASEAN is one of the centers of strong world economic growth.

“This meeting will also strengthen relations between ASEAN countries which were previously fragmented into one solid unit. “I am sure that with this spirit of collaboration, we can face all existing challenges together, there is only one direction, namely forward,” he added.

Meanwhile, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Energy Berhad Dato’ Indera Ir. Baharin welcomes this collaboration. According to him, this electricity system interconnection plan is an investment opportunity going forward. Even though it requires a large budget allocation, with strong collaboration it can be a profitable opportunity for the entire country.

“An attractive investment climate, as well as an attractive return on capital, is a challenge in itself. Although this interconnection model has been successfully implemented in Europe. “The opportunities for this collaboration will be increased,” explained Baharin.

Likewise, Managing Director of Electricite du Laos, Chanthaboun Soukaloune welcomed the discourse on building interconnections between ASEAN countries. He explained that so far the interconnection scheme has been able to be implemented by Laos. The Laos Thailand Malaysia Singapore (LTMS) electricity interconnection project is an example of interconnection of electricity systems.

“LTMS is one of our proud projects and is a manifestation of the implementation of electrical interconnection. We appreciate the bilateral cooperation between these countries, especially between Laos and Thailand, which has been going on for more than 15 years. This cooperation also further strengthens bilateral relations between countries,” said Chanthaboun.

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