By Andrew Nachemson
Bangkok, March 15, 2018
Environmental watchdogs expressed hope on Wednesday that the Thai government’s announcement that it will delay a decision to purchase power from the controversial planned Pak Beng Dam could signal a shift in the country – and possibly the region – towards renewable energy.
The dam, which is in Laos but is partially funded by Thailand – with 90 percent of generated power expected to be sold to Thailand – has faced significant opposition from civil society, local communities, and environmentalists who warn that it could have devastating downstream impacts in Cambodia and Thailand. If it goes forward, construction is expected to be complete in 2024. It is also the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by Thai villagers worried about the downstream impacts.
According to a Tuesday press release from International Rivers (IR), Thailand issued a letter in mid-February saying the decision would be postponed until after the country completes its Power Development Plan later this month. “The current review of the PDP was reportedly spurred by the … recognition that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are swiftly becoming mainstream in the global energy market,” the statement says.