SEA of power planning is showcased at ADB Energy and Environment Seminar

By the year 2025, energy demand for the Greater MekongSubregion (GMS) is expected to reach 237,000 megawatts, a threefold increase compared to the 77,000 megawatts used in 2010 and requiring substantial investments in power generation.

“The GMS countries are facing an increasing challenge of rationalizing investments in power development in the midst of growing energy demand,” said Sumit Pokhrel, Energy/Climate Change Coordinator of the GMS Core Environment Program, during the Joint Energy and Environment Community of Practitioner (CoP) Seminar held at Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila on 29 August 2011. 

Balancing energy security, environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions from energy development, and social implications within the constraints of limited supply options are imperatives of today’s power development planning.

SEA is a tool that has been successfully applied in support of energy planning globally and regionally and is being employed in the GMS countries to improve understanding of investment options and alternatives in the power sector to reduce risks and ensure better rate of return.

The SEA of the Power Development Plans VI and VII in Viet Nam was instrumental in re-calibrating national energy efficiency and renewable energy targets, expected to result in reduction of energy intensity and social and environmental costs associated with power development. The inclusion of SEA in energy planning in GMS countries will support a plan for regional energy demand and supply.

“This is the first time that the SEA of the power development plan in Viet Nam has integrated a full range of social and environmental issues into a country’s power development plan,” Mr. Pokhrel said.

The results of the SEA for the energy sector in Viet Nam suggested that cost of non renewable energy is projected to increase over time and is vulnerable to price shocks. The replacement of coal with enhanced renewable energy generation will enable the country to save over $10 million per year by 2030. Through improved energy efficiency, demand for coal could be reduced by over 56 million tons/year by 2030 valued at $4 billion per year, including the reduction of four major atmospheric pollutants. The reduction of impacts from enhanced renewable energy is valued at $1.7 billion/year by 2030.

The impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are expected to cost $1.2 billion in 2011, increasing to over $9 billion by 2030. The health impacts increase from $330 million in 2011 to $1.35 billion in 2030.

The SEA also identified hydropower projects with the most environmental impacts covering over 25,000 ha reservoir area displacing 61,500 people.

The experience in SEA in Viet Nam provided the country’s energy sector with scientifically analytical framework consisting of scenarios, alternatives, and valuations leading to clear and transparent re-assessment of the costs and benefits of different generation alternatives. The results of the SEA led to recommendations on how to improve performance of the power sector.

SEA is a tool successfully applied in support of energy planning globally and regionally and is being promoted by the Environment Operations Center in the GMS countries. SEA is increasingly becoming mandatory for strategic planning in the region with People’s Republic of China, Thailand and Viet Nam having legal requirements for its conduct. Lao PDR is now working towards the promulgation of a SEA decree.

A full copy of the results of the SEA in support of energy planning in the GMS can be obtained here.

Publish Date: 11th December 2011

Last Updated: 27th March 2013

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