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From 17 to 23 July, officials from the Government of the Lao PDR and representatives from the Australian Embassy in Laos travelled to Thailand to take part in activities aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation to promote a reliable, secure and sustainable energy sector in the Lao PDR.
Energy has long been a driver of growth in the Lao PDR, with the sector making up 30% of all exports. As the Government pursues economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and a green economy, quality development of energy infrastructure, energy transition planning and capacity building will help ensure the sector can generate more inclusive growth.
Australia and the Lao PDR are longstanding partners, but several new tools are now available to expand bilateral cooperation, including the Australian Government’s Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I) and the Mekong Australia Partnership Water, Energy and Climate (MAP WEC).
Australia’s Ambassador to Laos, Mr Paul Kelly, said the visit program was designed in response to energy needs identified during bilateral consultations in May.
“Through P4I and MAP WEC, our two countries are working closely to identify how best to harness Australian expertise and insights from our own rapid energy transition to support the Government of Lao PDR’s energy priorities,” said Ambassador Kelly.
“Australia will help the Lao PDR optimise its energy transition. This visit built understanding of renewable energy developments and emerging technology, including by exploring how Australia, Thailand and other countries are decarbonising their energy sectors.”
P4I organised the visit with the Australian Embassies in Laos and Thailand, and co-funded Lao delegates with USAID.
Ms Santisouk Phimphachanh, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Mines’ (MEM) Department of Energy Policy and Planning led the Lao delegation and joined a panel on modernising energy grids at the Future Energy Asia Summit in Bangkok.
“Ahead of our trip to Thailand, we identified sustainable and resilient energy, sector planning, and the energy transition, as our main areas of interest,” said Ms. Phimphachanh.
“These were all incorporated into the program of activities. To support a whole-of-government approach to addressing Lao PDR’s immediate and longer-term energy priorities, our delegation also included officials from several ministries and agencies.”
In addition to the Future Energy Asia Summit, Lao officials joined a knowledge exchange workshop with Australian energy academics at the forefront of Australia’s clean energy transition. They also visited the Lamtakong Jolobna Vadhana Power Plant and Learning Centre run by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and a floating solar site managed by Impact Solar Group.
The visit followed a successful roundtable in January between the Lao PDR’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Australian Energy Regulator on sustainable energy development and integration, and an Australian energy scoping mission to Vientiane in May.