New energy solutions are crucial to developing the Greater Mekong Subregion, where power demand is surging. These include improving energy efficiency and cross-border power trading. The Regional Power Trade Coordination Committee (RPTCC) manages regional power trade in the subregion.
Greater Mekong Subregion countries are in varying stages of economic development, but they share common goals concerning energy security and environmental protection. Some have made significant progress in promoting renewable energy, clean fuels, and energy efficiency.
New energy solutions are crucial to the subregion’s advancement. Demand for energy is surging, and by some estimates demand for energy in the lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam – is expected to nearly triple from 317 terawatt-hours in 2012 to 815 terawatt-hours in 2025.
Their rapidly improving economies have allowed GMS countries to respond to this demand with extensive power generation projects. Gas-fired plants are expected to nearly double to about 54 plants with 24,000 megawatts during the same period. Renewable sources such as solar, wind, and biomass are not yet prevalent in the subregion, but the number of projects is increasing rapidly.
GMS countries are addressing the complexities of meeting this surging energy demand by taking a regional approach that allows for the most cost-efficient projects using a diverse range of energy sources.They are also sharing experiences and lessons learned.
Countries are enhancing the regional coordination of power trading, including the exchange of information on energy sector plans and projects. The ultimate goal is to provide an adequate supply of energy throughout the subregion at an affordable price, and to bring the economic benefits of a reliable energy supply to people in rural areas, while at the same time encouraging investment.
The GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) will emphasize cross-border power trade, establishing regional grid codes, developing regional markets, and expanding clean energy investments with a greater role for the private sector. GMS-2030, endorsed and adopted at the 7th GMS Summit of Leaders in September 2021, aims to provide a new setting for the development of this subregion for the next decade.
The GMS Road Map for Expanded Cooperation in the Energy Sector is helping to guide efforts in planning and implementing projects for power generation, cross-border interconnections, and for improving country transmission systems. National projects are being developed with an eye toward the development of regional power trade arrangements that will increase efficiency and lower energy costs for consumers.
A partnership between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), Cambodia’s national power utility, to develop a 100-megawatt (MW) National Solar Park reached a milestone with the park’s first 60 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation plant connecting to the national grid. ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa marked the occasion with a visit to the solar park on 11 November, during which he initiated the start of power delivery.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) mobilized a $135 million financing package for VinFast Trading and Production Joint Stock Company (VinFast) for manufacturing Viet Nam’s first fully-electric public transport bus fleet and first national electric vehicle (EV) charging network. The assistance will support Viet Nam’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and expand high-tech manufacturing industries.
The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is increasing its electricity exports generated from its hydropower projects to its neighbors in the Greater Mekong Subregion, including Viet Nam. Lao PDR and Viet Nam have signed MoUs targeting to export 8,148 MW from Lao PDR to Viet Nam by 2030. Lao PDR also signed contracts with Viet Nam Electricity (EVN) to implement 25 projects with a combined capacity of 2,180 megawatts.
The People’s Republic of China and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have successfully conducted two-way transmission of electricity on 20 June 2022, marking a milestone in their energy trade. The Nam Tha 1 Hydropower Station, Lao PDR, sent electricity to Yunnan province, PRC.
China Southern Power Grid (CSG) and Electricite du Laos (EDL) signed a 115 kV power trade agreement in March 2022 to help consume Lao PDR’s surplus hydropower during the rainy season. During the dry season, CSG will export power supply to northern Lao PDR.
ADB supports Thailand in responding to the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, ADB provided $1.5 billion loan to help the country mitigate the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
ADB is one of Cambodia's largest sources of official development assistance, with average annual lending of $329.8 million from 2016-2021. The bank's support is aligned with the Cambodia's National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023.
The GMS Program mission is to focus on its fundamental strengths of community, connectivity, and competitiveness, while embracing the core principles of environmental sustainability and resilience, internal and external integration, and inclusivity, for building a GMS community with a bright shared future.
Greater Mekong Subregion Secretariat
Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank
Address: 6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 8632 4444 Fax: +63 2 8636 2226