Greater Mekong Region Can Reach 100 Percent Renewable and Sustainable Energy by 2050, According to New WWF Study

Posted on May, 24 2016

Bangkok, May 24, 2016 -- A new report launched today by WWF and partners finds that 100 percent of the Greater Mekong’s power supply can be generated by renewable and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, biogas, geothermal and biomass by 2050. Combined with energy efficiency technologies, this will reduce the risk of damaging impacts of climate change while increasing energy security for millions.
‘Toward 100 Percent Renewable Electricity 2050’ is an exhaustive study by Intelligent Energy Systems of the current energy plans in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The report proposes two ambitious but totally achievable scenarios -- based on a mix of solar, wind and geothermal technologies, supplemented by existing hydropower and biogas facilities along with improvements in energy efficiency.
It also shows how, despite the upfront costs of converting to renewable technologies, the business case for switching to 100 percent renewable energy is overwhelmingly positive and economically feasible over the long term.
“This is an urgent call to action – the Greater Mekong region is at ground zero in the fight against climate change but if we follow the common sense roadmap laid out in the Energy Vision 2050, we will improve the lives of millions – providing clean, renewable energy and improved livelihoods while providing a buffer against climate change,” said Jean-Philippe Denruyter, WWF Energy Lead for the greater Mekong.
The Greater Mekong’s energy demand is growing at a very fast rate, yet 50 million people have no access to reliable electricity in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. Current national power sector plans rely on outdated coal, gas and unsustainable hydropower, which have significant environmental, social and economic downsides. Fossil fuels are a primary driver of climate change, which is already impacting the region – according to a paper in the journal  Nature, the Mekong Delta is disappearing due to the combined effects of sea level rise and reduced sediment delivery from its river basin, and Bangkok could be underwater in a few decades, according to reports from scientists and the United Nations.
This renewable electricity report offers three scenarios for 2050. By following the Business as Usual Scenario that is currently planned in the region, Greater Mekong countries will generate 63 percent of their power from fossil fuels, five percent from nuclear and 16 percent from hydropower dams. The heavy reliance on fossil fuels results in 771 million tons of carbon emissions, which will increase global warming and other damaging forms of climate change.
However, the other two scenarios paint a much different picture:
  • Under the Sustainable Energy Scenario 14 percent of energy is derived from fossil fuels, 86 percent from renewables and only 112 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere (an 85 percent reduction from Business as Usual)
  • The more ambitious Advanced Sustainable Energy Scenario results in 100 percent of energy from renewables and zero carbon emissions.
Both of the Sustainable Energy Scenarios anticipate 30 percent less energy demand due to energy efficiency programmes.
By choosing either of the sustainable energy scenarios and tapping the region’s large energy efficiency potential, it will be possible to:
  • significantly reduce the region’s dependence on fossil fuels or future uranium imports;
  • accelerate access to electricity for all;
  • ensure stable electricity prices for decades to come;
  • increase job creation;
  • increase positive cooperation in the region to optimise electricity consumption and production;
  • reduce environmental and social impacts of traditional power generation, notably unsustainable hydropower.
“The Greater Mekong countries have an opportunity to become leaders in clean, renewable and sustainable electricity while maintaining their economic growth. The technologies exist and they are becoming increasingly cheaper than outdated fossil fuel plants and generally require less time to build,” said Teak Seng, Conservation Director, WWF Greater Mekong. “The choice we face today – between a renewable energy future or one powered by fossil fuels – may seem daunting, but it is nothing compared to the challenges our children will face tomorrow if we choose the wrong path.”
Editors Notes:
  • Photos, video and full reports can be found here:
  • For more information, go to:
  • Project partners include IES Intelligent Energy Systems and Mekong Economics Ltd.
  • This project was made possible with the generous support of the MAVA Foundation and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
Contact: Lee Poston
Communications Director, WWF-Greater Mekong;
Mobile: +66 (0)9 188 322 90
About WWF Greater Mekong
The Greater Mekong is home to some of the planet’s most endangered wild species, including the tiger, saola, Asian elephant, Mekong dolphin and Mekong giant catfish. Over 2,216 new species have been found in the Greater Mekong since 1997. WWF-Greater Mekong works on conservation initiatives through country programmes in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. WWF-Greater Mekong’s mission is a future where humans live in harmony with nature. To learn more about WWF’s activities, please visit us at