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Renewable and sustainable energy for the power sector in Lao PDR: Policies, practices and performance

Saignasane, Alignakone (2021) Renewable and sustainable energy for the power sector in Lao PDR: Policies, practices and performance. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Lao PDR has good potential for renewable energy sources including hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass. Hydropower has been the main source of the country’s electricity generation for many decades. This source of electricity dominates around 80% of the total power generation followed by coal-based power and less than 1% of other renewable energies. In this circumstance, it is essential for the Government of Lao PDR to identify other renewable energy sources for power generation. One of the approaches is to avoid increasing fossil fuel-based power generation capacity and reinforce policies to safeguard the power generation sector from socio-economic and climate impacts to increase the foreign revenue from cross-border power trade. Otherwise, this status quo will lead to environmental impacts, including increasing emissions from coal-fired power plants that will have implications on achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. Besides, Lao PDR, in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), has agreed to reduce GHG emissions, particularly by increasing the share of renewable energy to 30% of energy consumption by 2025.

The analysis of this study is used the Low Emission Analysis Platform (LEAP) modelling software to run a continuous time series from 2020 to 2030 of the two energy policy scenarios using: (1) the current policy scenario (CPS) and (2) the high renewable energy scenario (HRES). The analyses indicate that there is an exponential growth in energy demand for both scenarios with slightly higher demand in CPS over HRES scenarios. Biomass is the highest energy consumption and remains an important source which is primarily used for household cooking, followed by diesel consumption in the transport sector. In the environmental view, GHGs emissions in the CPS scenario are much higher than the HRES scenario. This is reflected in energy demand and supply sectors that there should have a technological advancement for alternative energies. To limit the growth in energy consumption and thus reducing emissions in the energy sector, promoting energy-efficient appliances in the residential sector could be a suitable option. In addition, the government should put more effort into introducing the use of electric vehicles in order to lessen fossil fuel consumption internal combustion engines. In the meantime, the diversification of energy sources particularly non-hydro renewables should be considered to reduce the planned capacity expansion of fossil fuel-based power generation.

Above all the notions have been set as parameters in mitigating the emissions from traditional fossil fuels in both demand and power generation. More importantly, enhancing non-hydro renewable energy technologies to avoid an over-reliance on hydropower, will result in more productive and effective outcomes for the power sector in the future.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Engineering and Energy
United Nations SDGs: Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Supervisor(s): Zaman, Anis
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