Across the world, countries are building dams to create electricity and boost their economies, but the risks could outweigh the benefits. Dams often inflicts environmental damage to aquatic eco-systems that creates socio-economic risks to communities dependent on rivers and lakes for their livelihoods. The problem is especially urgent in Southeast Asia, where dams are constructed in the Mekong River for hydropower.
Laos has suspended consideration of new hydropower projects in the country pending reviews of development policy after the breach of a dam last month left at least 34 dead with 100 still missing. The announcement followed a meeting of the country’s cabinet at which plans were also made to carry out safety inspections of all hydropower projects already built or under construction.
The Lao dam disaster in Attapeu province has cast a long, dark shadow of doubt about the safety standards and viability of dozens of other hydropower projects. This entirely preventable man-made catastrophe left 6,000 people homeless from floods and over 1,000 villagers unaccounted for. After the dam burst, the flood waters rushed from the Xe Pian river into the Sekong River, a major tributary of the Mekong River.
Việt Nam needs an enormous amount of energy to feed its development, but relying on coal and hydropower is not the answer, and with new measures still at an early stage, experts are concerned about the future, with demand for energy rising by an average 9.5 per cent year-on-year.
The Philippines’ Renewable Energy Act of 2008 has spurred the development of more cleaner energy resources, but not as much as it had hoped to do. The law is pushing the country to achieve energy self-reliance and reduce dependence on fossil fuels through the shift to cleaner and indigenous forms of energy.
Last year, just as Western banks and global development agencies were shunning coal projects on environmental grounds, India, the world’s second-biggest burner after China, consumed an additional 27m tonnes, a rise of 4.8%. That led to the first increase in global coal consumption in four years.
TEPCO, Japan’s largest energy firm, is an unlikely advocate of techno-anarchy...yet it is trying to reinvent itself as a pioneer of one of the edgiest forms of energy. It is embracing blockchain technology with an aim, no less, of overthrowing the old order in the electricity business to make it more decentralised.
A Thai-based renewable energy technology company, Energy Absolute, plans to invest $3 billion in a battery 'gigafactory', hedging on Southeast Asia’s uptake of electric vehicles and smart grids. The firm’s deputy CEO told local media that the company is in talks with a number of Thai energy companies to share the investment.