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Keppel to buy low-carbon power from Cambodia and Laos
Green light from Singapore energy regulator paves way for importation of up to 4GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035
Peter Starr 20 Mar 2023

Keppel Corp has reached a long-term power purchase and export agreement with Cambodia’s Royal Group Power to buy electricity from Cambodia and Laos.

Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) has conditionally approved long-term imports and sales of one gigawatt of low-carbon electricity from renewable energy sources by Keppel Corp's wholly owned unit Keppel Energy, according to a statement from Keppel Corp.

Keppel Energy was the first entity to receive such conditional approval, which paves the way for the country’s first-of-its-kind large-scale importation of up to 4GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035.

Financial terms of the agreement between Keppel Energy and Royal Group Power were not disclosed.

“Keppel Energy’s large-scale electricity import is expected to aggregate low-carbon electricity generated from various renewable energy sources in Cambodia, with the ability to scale and hybridize with the vast renewable energy sources in [the Lao People’s Democratic Republic], which will provide greater flexibility and energy resilience,” the statement says.

Imports expected to start after 2030

“It is envisaged that the power will be transmitted through onshore overhead high-voltage transmission lines and subsea high-voltage transmission cables from Cambodia to Singapore,” Keppel says.

The electricity will be supplied from an integrated system of more than 4GW of installed capacity – largely solar, complemented by hydro and potentially wind –  and supported by storage systems such as pumped hydro storage and batteries.

Imports from Cambodia are expected to start after 2030, with Keppel leveraging its experience with the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project – the first cross-border electricity trade deal involving four Asean countries.

The project will "enhance the interconnectivity of the Asean Power Grid and bring greater energy security to the region", Keppel says.

EMA chief executive Ngiam Shih Chun says the conditional approval granted to Keppel Energy is an “important step” towards achieving Singapore's goal of importing up to 4GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035. “Imports of low carbon electricity from renewable energy sources will help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050,” he adds.

Cindy Lim, chief executive of Keppel Infrastructure Holdings – the wholly-owned unit that controls Keppel Energy – says the project will “accelerate renewable energy growth in Asean as well as bolster the region’s energy resilience”.

Royal Group chairman Kith Meng adds: “Our success will not only benefit our two companies and our two countries but will also foster integration in the power sector of the AseanCommunity,” he said.

Feasibility study with Thailand’s PSGC

Meanwhile, Keppel says it is making “good progress” on studying the feasibility of renewable energy imports from Laos under a memorandum of understanding signed with PSG Corporation Public Co Ltd (PSGC) in October last year.   

"Keppel and PSGC are working towards optimizing the configuration of selected pumped storage hydro facilities in Laos … in line with international environment and social impact assessment standards,” the statement says.

Among those witnessing the signing of the purchase and export agreement last Wednesday (March 15) were Singapore Manpower Minister Tan See Leng and Cambodian Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem.

The cables between Cambodia and Singapore would be the longest cross-border subsea interconnector in Southeast Asia at more than 1,000 kilometres, according to local reports quoting Tan, who is also Singapore’s second minister for trade and industry.

Following the conditional approval granted to Keppel Energy, the EMA said in a separate statement last Thursday that it would continue to review proposals to decarbonize Singapore’s energy supply until the end of this year.

Also last Thursday, Singapore and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding on renewable energy cooperation. “These two developments are important steps towards the Asean Power Grid vision,” the EMA says.

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