Northeast Asian countries voice the need for multilateral dialogue and cooperation for power interconnection

Countries from Northeast Asia, some of the world’s largest energy consumers, confirmed the necessity for intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder platforms to support power interconnection in the sub-region, at a United Nations-led energy security forum on 15 December.

The 4th Northeast Asia Energy Security Forum, jointly hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, brought together representatives from governments, utility companies, research institutions and multilateral bodies. The Forum reviewed the existing proposals of power grid interconnections, and looked at spill over effects of power interconnection beyond the energy sector.

During the Forum, participants discussed a number of benefits from grid interconnection in Northeast Asia, including reduction of electricity cost, improvement of energy structure and energy security, and reduction of greenhouse gases and air pollution emissions. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Lee Taeho, in opening the Forum stressed that “An interconnected electric power grid in the region will contribute to improving inefficient electricity use, responding to the new paradigm of the low-carbon economy, and coping more effectively with frequent changes in the global energy market.”

“Power interconnection is not just a trade of goods. It is a key trigger of confidence-building among the connected countries and a key contributor to regional cooperation and integration,” said Mr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Head of ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office, in his remarks.

At the multilateral level, power interconnection has been a topic of discussion over the past 20 years. Recently, the idea of power interconnection based on renewable resources has gained wide support from governments, power companies and research institutions in Northeast Asia as a solution for meeting energy demands while greening energy mix at the subregional level. Utility companies in China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation have also started joint feasibility studies on power interconnection since mid-2016.

The Forum outcomes, including a potential option for intergovernmental/ multistakeholder platform, will be presented to the first session of the ESCAP Energy Committee, to be held on 17-19 January 2017 in Bangkok.