Connect with us


Lao Government Announce New Mekong Dam Plans



Seebee Dam Alberta Canada by Thank you for visiting my page via flickr

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat have been notified by Lao Government of their plans to build the Pak Beng Dam on the Lao Lower Mekong Mainstream.

According to the MRC, this will trigger commencement of the Prior Consultation procedure under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The Pak Beng Dam is the third in a proposed cascade of eleven dams on the Mekong mainstream. In response to the MRC’s announcement, International Rivers released the following statement:

We are very concerned by the Government of Laos’ notification of intention to move forward with construction of the Pak Beng Dam and the commencement of Prior Consultation. Experience from the Xayaburi and Don Sahong Dams has demonstrated major flaws in the Prior Consultation procedure. The MRC and its international donors have recognized problems with the PNPCA, yet no concrete steps have been taken for reform. By allowing regional consultation to begin over the Pak Beng Dam before addressing outstanding concerns around decision-making on Mekong dams, the MRC risks history repeating itself at the expense of the Mekong River and regional cooperation.

Prior Consultation is intended to provide the basis for reaching agreement between the four lower Mekong governments as to whether a proposed project should proceed. As the MRC acknowledges, for Xayaburi and Don Sahong, no agreement was reached within either the MRC’s Joint Committee or Council. Both projects proceeded despite expressions of serious concern from neighbouring governments and widespread calls for delay. Prior Consultation has thus far failed to ensure that necessary information is made available to properly understand the impacts of Mekong dams in neighbouring countries. In the case of both Xayaburi and Don Sahong, explicit requests for baseline information, further studies and transboundary impact assessments went unheeded.

The procedure lacks clear requirements to ensure the meaningful participation of affected communities and the public in the consultation process. There is little transparency as to how concerns are addressed and factored into decision-making. Indeed, by the time Prior Consultation is initiated, experience shows that key decisions have already been made and project agreements concluded.

Construction of the Pak Beng Dam would have significant transboundary impacts on communities in Thailand and throughout the Mekong River Basin. The impacts from each new dam in the proposed cascade are cumulative, and will fundamentally transform the river’s ecology; destroying much of its biodiversity together with food systems that sustain millions of people.

Urgent action is required to address the weaknesses in the PNPCA and unresolved concern over the Xayaburi and Don Sahong Dams before Mekong Governments consider any further projects on the lower Mekong River. The MRC should delay initiating the Prior Consultation process for the Pak Beng Dam and call on the Government of Laos to suspend all construction activities, in order to urgently address flaws in the PNPCA.

Prior Consultation is intended to further the 1995 Mekong Agreement’s objective of promoting regional cooperation on the equitable and sustainable use of the Mekong River. A flawed process must not be used as a means to legitimize the construction of further dams on the Mekong River.


The Pak Beng Dam is located seven kilometres upstream of Pak Beng town in Oudomxay Province, northern Laos. The 912MW project is the northernmost in a proposed cascade of eleven dams on the Mekong mainstream, and is estimated to resettle 6,700 people, with 25 villages in Laos and two in Thailand directly affected by the project. 90% of the electricity generated slated for Thailand and the remaining 10% will be sold to Laos’ state-owned utility, Electricite du Laos.

More information:

Read more about the Pak Beng Dam


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

Continue Reading


7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

Continue Reading