Pak Beng dam delay paves way for cleaner solutions
The disruptive potential of renewable energy has reached the Mekong region, and its impacts are playing out faster than anticipated.
Thailand's recent deferral of the power purchase agreement for the Thai-Chinese Pak Beng dam on the Mekong mainstream in Laos calls into question the future of hydropower development in the Mekong region. Thailand's rising energy demand has been the major driver for damming the Mekong, but Thailand's electricity rethink has put a Mekong mega-dam on hold.
Last year, the Electrical Generating Authority of Thailand started to revise the 2015 Power Development Plan (PDP) to better reflect actual power consumption. The government has already shelved plans for controversial coal plants in southern Thailand, admitting that existing plants can meet peak electricity demand in the near-term. Thailand has historically over-estimated its energy needs, and the 2015 PDP included an unusually high reserve requirement to address transmission risks. Currently, the electricity reserve requirement through 2036 reaches up to 39% more than peak demand, twice the global average.