Energy Connectivity and Regional Cooperation
Energy connectivity, particularly cross-border connectivity, can facilitate overall regional economic cooperation and integration. It can realise mutual socio-economic and environmental benefits and contribute to the achievement of the SDG7 targets for the member States.
Regional integration of power grids in particular is a long process and has to be built up over stages. So far, the Asia Pacific region is in early stages of energy connectivity.
ESCAP promotes energy connectivity and regional cooperation by providing a platform for dialogue, and hosting workshops and expert group meetings designed to delineate and address the principal barriers to energy connectivity from national, subregional, and regional perspectives.
Importance of Energy Connectivity
- Expansion of sustainable energy solutions. There are often greater choices for renewables beyond country borders. In addition, power system interconnection helps address the problems experiences when incorporating larger shares of variable renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. For example, the single electricity market of Ireland has been able to introduce wind power as a major source of energy in part due to interconnection of the Irish grid with that of Great Britain. Energy integration will thus afford possibilities for many countries to diversify sources of power generation, including more sustainable solutions. With greater interconnection, the region can use the large solar and wind potential that exists in many countries.
- Economies of scale and scope. The European Union and some other regions have integrated their power networks, which augments national supplies and allows significant energy system cost savings due to economies of scale and scope. Major savings occur due to capacity cost savings for additional generation capacity through complementary demand profiling across countries, reserve margins, improved load factors, increased load mix, and coordinated maintenance schedules.
- SDG7. Cross-border power connectivity also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 7. Especially for countries that have low access rates, regional energy connectivity will increase reliable power supply and present multiple opportunities for continued economic growth. It also provides an opportunity to increase the share of renewable energy in the generation mix by broadening the geographical area for power trade. It is potentially a vehicle to address some of the social development issues such as ensuring electricity access to all households and individuals.
See reports on energy connectivity Towards A Sustainable Future - Energy Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific 2016 and Integrating South Asia’s Power Grid for a Sustainable and Low Carbon Future 2018.