Understanding Quality Energy-Related Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Subregion: Key Drivers and Policy Implications
Many players have supported infrastructure development in the Mekong Subregion, bridging the missing links in Southeast Asia. While the influx of energy-related infrastructure development investments to the region has improved the livelihoods of millions of people on the one hand, it has brought about a myriad of challenges to the wider region in guiding investments for quality infrastructure and for promoting a low-carbon economy, and energy access and affordability, on the other hand. Besides reviewing key regional initiatives for infrastructure investment and development, this paper examines energy demand and supply, and forecasts energy consumption in the subregion during 2017–2050 using energy modelling scenario analysis. The study found that to satisfy growing energy demand in the subregion, huge power generation infrastructure investment, estimated at around $190 billion–$220 billion, is necessary between 2017 and 2050 and that such an investment will need to be guided by appropriate policy. We argue that without redesigning energy policy towards high-quality energy infrastructure, it is very likely that the increasing use of coal upon which the region greatly depends will lead to the widespread construction of coal-fired power plants, which could result in increased greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions.