In Lao PDR, small hydropower has the potential to be big business. With support from IFC and the Australian government, Lao PDR approved the Regulation on Small Hydropower Development to streamline approvals for projects less than 15 megawatts.
The Nam Ou River Basin, home to a cascade of seven hydropower dams, is rapidly changing. IFC and Lao PDR officials intend to identify key characteristics of the basin and create a comprehensive profile.
“IFC’s Performance Standards could be used as a guideline, or a checklist when reviewing environmental impact assessments,” said U Hein Htet, Deputy Director General, Department of Electric Power Planning at MOEP.
IFC offers tailor-made advisory services, technical expertise, and training opportunities to stakeholders in the hydropower industry.
With hundreds of hydropower projects planned throughout the Mekong region, IFC supports environment, water, and energy ministries to improve policies and regulations, with the aim of developing projects that follow good international industry practices to protect the environment and local people’s livelihoods.
To meet growing energy demands, neighboring financial institutions are increasingly investing in the region’s hydropower projects. These institutions can increase overall project and financial performance by putting in place effective environmental and social management systems and mitigating risks upfront, and IFC can help them do that.
An open and transparent dialogue between different stakeholders can help raise environmental and social standards for hydropower projects. That is why IFC seeks to partner with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure all parties are able to better anticipate, evaluate, and manage the cumulative impacts of hydropower development.
IFC has established a platform for hydropower developers to discuss the challenges they are facing and voice concerns to the government. The Hydropower Developers’ Working Group meets quarterly and is open to all companies interested in improving hydropower standards. The working group has a chapter in Lao PDR and is planning to establish one in Myanmar.