Sun rises over rocky banks of the Mekong River between Thailand and Lao PDR.

Photo: Pushish Donhongsa / Getty Images

SEI’s work on USAID Clean Power Asia focused on two main areas: gender and electricity system planning.

For the first, SEI performed a gender strategy assessment to inform USAID Clean Power Asia’s overall Gender Implementation Plan. This plan was integrated into all subsequent project activities. As part of the assessment, SEI surveyed renewable energy sectors in Lower Mekong countries to assess gender equality issues, and made recommendations for promoting gender equality and responsiveness within these sectors and related energy planning processes.

In the second area, SEI implemented a capacity-building program on integrated resource and resilience planning (IRRP) for Lao PDR’s electricity sector. Over a three-year period, the program taught stakeholders from Lao PDR’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and national electric utility how to conduct the modelling required for IRRP, analyse findings, and identify the best-justified planning choices.

Considering a range of social objectives for the electricity system and hundreds of possible futures – both key firsts in Lao PDR – the team developed robust, least-regrets power planning strategies. These included specific recommendations on where, when, and how to deploy electricity generation, storage, and transmission, as well as the most promising options for energy efficiency investment. An important component of the generation and transmission assessment involved renewable energy zones – areas where clustered development of renewable power and transmission could be technically and socially compelling. SEI identified potential renewable energy zones through a GIS analysis, helped to qualify investor interest in each zone, and included the zones as supply options in the IRRP modelling.

Based on a vulnerability analysis of Lao PDR’s power system that USAID Clean Power Asia conducted, SEI also devised methods for quantifying climate and other vulnerabilities in the modelling. The energy system model developed for the IRRP program was built with SEI’s LEAP and NEMO modelling tools. It comprised endogenous simulations of electricity demand, efficiency, generation, storage and transmission power flow.

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The Low Emissions Analysis Platform (LEAP) is a powerful, versatile system for energy planning and climate change mitigation assessment.