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Monsoons, Megawatts, and Monster Catfish Conflict and Cooperation over Mainland Southeast Asia’s Transboundary Rivers Darrin Magee Hobart & William Smith.

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Presentation on theme: "Monsoons, Megawatts, and Monster Catfish Conflict and Cooperation over Mainland Southeast Asia’s Transboundary Rivers Darrin Magee Hobart & William Smith."— Presentation transcript:

1 Monsoons, Megawatts, and Monster Catfish Conflict and Cooperation over Mainland Southeast Asia’s Transboundary Rivers Darrin Magee Hobart & William Smith Colleges

2 Asia’s water tower… Qinghai- Tibet Plateau … and powershed?

3 3 River as Untapped Resource Yunnan hydro development push since mid-1980s Lancang-Mekong  4800 km long (1200 in YN)  6 countries Nu-Salween  2800 km long (600 in YN)  3 countries Jinsha-Chang-Yangtze  6300 km long  9 Provinces + Tibet border Now: 120 GW; 2020: 300 GW; Potential: 384 GW Manwan Dam

4 Elevation (m) Distance (km) MW JH GLB MS DC S NZ D LTJ JB WN L TB HDHD TMKTMK GG Q XW Lancang Cascade

5 Yunnan Huaneng Lancang Hydro Co. One of five power conglomerates split off from former Ministry of Electric Power Officially “stock company” but majority of stocks are non-tradable Development begun in 1987; first dam completed in 1993 (Manwan) 5

6 6 Middle Lancang River 澜沧江

7 7 Nu Cascade ~600 km ~1100 m Songta 4200 MW 307 m Bingzhongluo 1600 MW 55 m Maji 4200 MW 300 m Lumadeng 2000 MW 165 m Fugong 400 MW 60 m Bijiang 1500 MW 71 m (Y)abiluo 1800 MW 133 m Liuku 180 MW 36 m Shitouzai 440 MW 59 m Lushui 2400 MW 175 m Saige 1000 MW 79 m Yansangshu 1000 MW 84 m Guangpo 600 MW 58 m

8 Yunnan Huadian Nu River Hydro Co. One of five power conglomerates split off from former Ministry of Electric Power Officially “stock company” but majority of stocks are non-tradable Development halted in March 2004 by Premier for failure to follow EIA procedures Ongoing “illegal” development halted again in spring 2009 8

9 9 Middle Nu River 怒江

10 10 Policy Framework Western Development Campaign (2001)  Focus on resources and infrastructure Send Western Electricity East ( 西电东送 )  Prioritized in 2001 Send Yunnan Power to Guangdong ( 滇电粤送 )  Ultra-high-voltage DC lines (800 kV) by 2010 Send Yunnan Electricity Outward ( 云电外送 )  Power sales to Vietnam since 2004, Thailand next Pan-Pearl River Delta ( 凡珠三角 )

11 11 Three West-East Corridors ( 通道 ) Beijing / Tianjin area Shanghai / Zhejiang / Jiangsu area Guangdong / PRD Northern Corridor From: Yalong Tsangpo & Yellow To: Capital area Middle Corridor From: Jinsha/Upper Yangtze To: Shanghai area Southern Corridor From: Lancang/Nu To: Guangdong area

12 GMS GMS: Reasons for the (sub)region 1992 Asian Development Bank 6 Members 2005 Summit in China Naturalizing discourse  Grids  Roads  Rail  Shipping  Tourism  Goods

13 EXPORTING EXPERTISE China’s dam-builders go south (and elsewhere)

14 Global dam efforts by Chinese firms Roughly 100 projects (McDonald et al., 2008) Often coupled with related infrastructure  Roads, bridges, communications Investment approach in addition to aid  Motivated in large part by primary resource needs Reforms in electric power industry open door for flexibility and opportunism (Magee 2006; McDonald et al., 2008) Magee, D. Powershed Politics. The China Quarterly 185 (2006). McDonald, K., et al., Exporting dams: China’s hydropower industry goes global, Journal of Environmental Management (2008).

15 Exporting knowledge Africa  Algeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Congo, Sudan Eastern Europe  Albania, Georgia Central Asia/Middle East  Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan And of course, next door…

16 China and Mainland SE Asia China upstream, regional power  Projects key to China’s western and regional development  Concerns downstream about China hegemony Mekong River Commission (MRC)  Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam members  China, Myanmar dialogue partners MSEA governments, with or without blessing of MRC, buying into China hydro development  Inter-government Agreement for Power Trade in GMS  Thai co-investment in Chinese power stations  Power sales from China to Vietnam  GMS focus on regional power grid integration  Power lines across Laos to Thailand

17 Mekong River Commission New Strategic Plan (2006-2010)  “more investments in irrigation, navigation, and hydropower are bound to occur”  “appropriate exploitation of hydropower potential”  “potential area for cooperative development”  Review & update hydropower assessment (30 GW)  Hydropower “can play several important roles”  Modeling & assessment of proposed projects 13 GW on mainstream Mekong 13 GW on major Mekong tributaries

18 Energy Profile: Cambodia Installed capacity: ~0.012 GW Theoretical capacity: ~10 GW Much of infrastructure, including power grid, was destroyed during latter half of 1900s Widespread dependence on diesel generators for power (high cost, highly polluting, dependent on oil imports) More than 20 isolated systems

19 Energy Profile: Vietnam Installed capacity: ~4.5 GW Theoretical capacity: ~18 GW Plans for additional 5 GW by 2010 Transboundary power sales already occurring from Yunnan since 2004 (110 kV) New 500-kV line completed in 2006

20 Energy Profile: Laos Installed capacity: ~0.7 GW Theoretical capacity: ~30 GW Second greatest hydro potential on Mekong “Battery” for powering GMS development “Transhipment” point for power transfers Sinohydro, China National Electronics, and China Datang all bidding on Mekong cascade  e.g., Xanakham (600 MW, US $880M)

21 Energy Profile: Thailand Installed capacity: ~3.5 GW Theoretical capacity: ~15 GW Most of technically, economically and politically feasible hydropower already built Significant popular resistance to new projects and to operating rules of existing projects

22 Energy Profile: Myanmar (Burma) Installed capacity: ~0.75 GW Theoretical capacity: ~37 GW Developing massive reserves requires international partnerships, made difficult by military regime in power Ta Sang Project on Salween: 7110 MW  Thailand major investor, Chinese interest growing  Majority of power will go to Thailand

23 Sinohydro Consulting and construction company built from assets of former MEP Projects  Kamchay 193 MW, US $280M, largest investment by China in Cambodia, largest hydro project in Cambodia; also Kirirom III (13 MW)  Paklay (1320 MW) on Mekong in Laos  Also high-speed rail in China and other infrastructure projects in Angola

24 Grid Corporations Two national-level grid corporations from MEP Restructuring in 2002 was intended to separate generation from transmission in the electric power industry  China State Grid Xin Yuan International Investment Co. for Kirirom III (13 MW) in Cambodia  China Southern Power Grid signed MOU in 2007 to conduct feasibility study for Sambor (3300 MW or 465 MW) and Stung Cheay Areng (260 MW) in Cambodia

25 SOUTHEAST ASIA’S RIVERS BE DAMMED?

26 Why the push southward? China’s power shortages, future surplus? “Soft power” approach to regional relations  Resource diplomacy throughout GMS Curbing Japanese influence in the region  Japan Banking and Investment Corporation wields considerable influence through infrastructure funds  Asian Development Bank – Japan major partner  Mekong River Commission – Japan major donor

27 Social and Ecological Concerns Changes to flow regime may impact downstream fishing and agriculture Sediment trapping reduces natural fertilization of floodplain and dam efficiency Resettlement disrupts social fabric and livelihoods Interference with local power provision Concerns about increase in dissolved gases, potential for methane production in warm reservoirs Great uncertainty due to political obstacles to scientific collaboration and data-sharing

28 Monsoons Real concerns about dam impacts on unique Tonle Sap ecosystem Monsoon season  Water enters lake Dry season  Water leaves lake Major protein and rice source

29 Monster Catfish Charismatic megafauna? Giant catfish of symbol of unique Mekong system  Decidedly less cuddly than pandas Real concerns about future of anadromous fish in Mekong and tributaries  ~10 species migrate north past Chinese border  No fish passage structures

30 Pros and cons of large dams Benefits Irrigation Flood control Power generation Navigation Recreation Costs Altered flow regime  Impacts on ecosystems and human communities Change in water quality Population displacement Habitat alteration Health risks

31 To dam or not? Multipurpose dams  Why do they often fail to meet design expectations? How do dams alter the hydrograph of a river?  Highs? Lows? Particularities of dams on transboundary rivers in China/Mainland SE Asia Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is C/B analysis even a good way to evaluate?

32 Sustainable Development?

33 Questions Darrin Magee, Ph.D. Environmental Studies Program Hobart & William Smith Colleges Geneva, NY magee@hws.edu


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