Electricity-starved Cambodia will not develop new hydropower dams on the Mekong River for the next 10 years, a senior energy official said on Wednesday, as it reviews its policy to seek energy from coal, natural gas and solar.
The decision means that neighboring Laos, which has opened two new dams on the mainstream Mekong in the past six months, is the only country in the Lower Mekong Basin planning hydropower on the river that sustains some 60 million people.
Victor Jona, director general of energy at Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, told Reuters the government was following a study done by a Japanese consultant that recommended Cambodia seeks energy elsewhere.
“According to the study, we need to develop coal, LNG, imports from neighboring countries and solar energy,” he said, adding that he could not give details contained in a government master plan.
“In this 10-year plan, from 2020 to 2030, we have no plans to develop a mainstream dam,” he said.
Environmentalists have warned that dams will harm fisheries and farming along the 2,390-km Lower Mekong.
The river nourishes fishing grounds and farmlands as it flows in from China then winds past or through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.