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A light left in the dark: The practice and politics of pico-hydropower in the Lao PDR

Listed author(s):
  • Smits, Mattijs
  • Bush, Simon R.
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    The article describes the widespread use of an estimated 60,000 low-head pico-hydropower turbines and well-developed networks of supply and support in the Northern part of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). This apparent widespread use is contrasted with the policy narratives of key actors in the government, multilateral organisations and the private sector which show an often simplified and overly negative attitude towards pico-hydropower. Based on empirical research carried out in three upland districts and the capital, Vientiane, the paper critically investigates the apparent disjuncture between policy and practice by placing pico-hydropower within the broader political context of rural electrification in the Lao PDR. It is argued that the neglect of pico-hydropower and other off-grid household electrification technologies is a result of an endemic lack of information on which to base policy decisions, the orientation of the government to facilitate large scale foreign investment in large hydropower dams, the universal applicability of solar home systems, and the broader state agenda of centralisation and control over service provision to remote upland areas.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 116-127

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:1:p:116-127
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    1. Li, Tania Murray, 2002. "Engaging Simplifications: Community-Based Resource Management, Market Processes and State Agendas in Upland Southeast Asia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 265-283, February.
    2. Green, Donna, 2004. "Thailand's solar white elephants: an analysis of 15 yr of solar battery charging programmes in northern Thailand," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 747-760, April.
    3. Roe, Emery M., 1991. "Development narratives, or making the best of blueprint development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 287-300, April.
    4. Lawrence R. Sullivan, 2000. "Guest Editor's Introduction," Chinese Economy, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 33(3), pages 3-6, May.
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