Mountainous and landlocked Lao PDR, known as the "Battery of Asia", is building dozens of dams at breakneck speed so it can sell energy to power-hungry neighbours as a fast track out of poverty.But the communist country's ambitious power plans are highly controversial.
Hundreds are missing and an unknown number feared dead after a partly built hydropower dam in southeast Lao PDR collapsed after heavy rain and sent a wall of water surging through six villages, state media and contractors said Tuesday.Laos News Agency said the accident happened on Monday evening near the border with Cambodia, releasing five billion cubic metres of water - more than two million Olympic swimming pools.The agency said there were "several human lives claimed, and several hun
The Mekong is Southeast Asia’s lifeblood, pumping life into some of the region’s biggest cities. It is the seventh longest river in Asia and the 12th longest in the world. The 4,350-kilometre river runs from the Tibetan Plateau through China’s Yunnan Province, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong is important to the region for a number of reasons. First, it acts as an important fishery resource for the countries it flows through.
Since sanctions by the United States (US) and European Union (EU) were lifted, Myanmar has enjoyed relatively strong economic growth. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Myanmar’s economy has grown at an average of 7.5 percent between 2012 and 2017.
Hydropower is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest renewable energy sources, however, many still remain oblivious to the damaging side-effects of hydropower projects. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydropower capacity in the region grew almost threefold from 16 GW to 44 GW between 2000 and 2016. Currently, the use of hydropower is most prevalent in Vietnam, Lao PDR and Thailand, which take advantage of the Mekong River flowing through their respective borders.
With the mighty Mekong river running through the country, it is no surprise that Cambodia’s renewable energy sector is often associated with hydropower. This body of water flows southward from the Cambodia-Lao PDR border to the point below Kraceh city, where it turns west for about 50 kilometres and then turns southwest to Phnom Penh. The Mekong is the longest river in Southeast Asia and is the 12th longest in the world.
Last month, the United Nations Committee for Development Policy announced that Lao PDR had fulfilled the criteria to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status for the first time. The Indochinese nation’s per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of US$ 1,996 exceeded the graduation threshold of US$ 1,230 or above. Besides that, Lao PDR scored 72.8, more than the 66 or above rating on the Human Assets Index.
Hydropower in Southeast Asia holds much promise. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydropower capacity in the region grew almost threefold from 16 GW to 44 GW between 2000 and 2016. The major users of hydropower technology are Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) members in the Indochinese region and the Philippines.
Renewable energy generation across the Southeast Asian region has been long driven by the deployment of hydro-based solutions. Between 2000 and 2016, hydropower capacity in the region grew from nearly 16 GW to 44 GW, according to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).The region currently deploys two types of hydropower – large hydro and small hydro. Countries in the Mekong River Basin, including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), are leading this growth.
According to a World Bank report on Lao in 2017, the country pleasantly surprised many by becoming one of the fastest growing in the region. The World Bank even ranked Lao as the 13th fastest growing economy of 2016. Bloomberg forecasted last year that the country will continue to grow, sustaining at least 7% growth until 2019.One of the contributors to the country’s rapid growth is its expanding energy segment – most notably the hydroelectric sector.
Among all the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar lags behind in terms of electricity connectivity to the national grid. Only 35 percent of the population is connected to the national grid, according to a report published by Baker & McKenzie in October, 2017.
Southeast Asia has been touted as one of the most dynamic regions which is projected to enjoy increased development and high economic growth rates in the coming years. To keep the cogs of industry turning within the region, there must be adequate supply of electricity.Electricity demand in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to grow between 5 to 6 percent yearly from 2016-2020.