On Wednesday 20 February, Dr Peter Meier delivered a lecture to staff and students of Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh, on the challenges of developing hydroelectric power in Southeast Asia.
Dr Meier’s talk, entitled “Exporting electricity to boost economic growth: will it work for Laos and Cambodia?” addressed the following topic:
Many small developing countries with few natural resources, except water, hope to export electricity to larger neighbouring countries: Nepal to India; Laos and Cambodia to Thailand and Vietnam. But large hydro projects have many undesirable side effects, and in the case of Laos and Cambodia, such projects pose major problems for the world’s most productive fishery in the Mekong River. Do the expected export revenues offset the damage costs to forests and fisheries? Do such projects and their revenues and taxes really generate jobs and promote economic development? Can landlocked Nepal and Laos become the Switzerland of South East Asia? Indeed, any lessons for those who hope that an independent Scotland would profit from exports of renewable energy to England?
Dr Meier’s talk was well-received by the audience and was followed by an hour of spirited discussion.
Dr Peter Meier is a senior energy economist and advisor to the World Bank, with power sector experience in over 30 countries. He has advised many governments, power companies and international financial institutions and is currently working on electricity trade in the middle east and in South East Asia, and on a large hydro project in Nepal. Previously he was Chief Economist of the New Zealand-based Asia Power Company, Professor at the Business School of the State University of New York and Head of Energy Economics at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the USA. He is the author of several books on energy, electricity policy and of numerous World Bank publications. He was educated at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.