Lao PDR (hereafter Lao) is providing most of the country’s electricity from hydro electricity generation. On the other hand, the country is also experiencing an increasing demand for and reliance on imported fossil fuels for the transport and industry sectors, contributing to a CO2 emission that is expected to rise to 526,000 tons per year by 2030. While there are several factors contributing to this increase, some of the most notable ones are population growth, urbanization, and GDP growth.
With socio-economic growth, motor vehicle ownership is expected to increase to approximately 3 million units by 2030, accompanied by an increase in the amount of imported liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which has so far nearly doubled between 2005 (1,936 tons) and 2015 (3,650 tons) , and will continue to increase in the coming years.
To mitigate the growing GHG emissions from increasing demand for fossil fuels for the transportation sector, as well as to reduce the amount of imported LPG and ensure energy security and continued sustainable socio-economic growth, Lao has been striving to deploy various technologies to increase the share of renewable energy within the country, as illustrated in the National Determined Contributions (2015) and the Renewable Energy Development Strategy (2011).
The Ministry of the Energy and Mines (MEM) has identified the power-to-gas technology, which can be used to produce carbon-neutral gases to fuel motorized vehicles and in industrial applications, as one of the promising technologies to replace fossil fuels. Power-to-gas process includes first of all splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis using electricity, which is mostly generated from hydropower plants in Lao. This hydrogen can be used to store excess hydro power, or it can be combined with carbon dioxide to produce methane gas, which can be used in place of LNG to fuel motorized vehicles. Gases produced via the power-to-gas technology, when using renewable energy (RE) generated from hydropower, which is the case of Lao, is not only carbon-neutral, but it will also contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.
As a country with no existing source of natural gas within its borders, Lao currently lacks gas-related laws, regulations, and infrastructure to allow commercial use of hydrogen and methane produced via power-to-gas process. While the Ministry of the Energy and Mines has been tasked to create such regulations by the executive order from the President of Lao, the challenge still remains as there is little to no expertise on this topic in the country to begin the process of preparing to deploy green gases at a commercial scale.
A request is made to CTCN to support MEM to prepare a power to gas-related masterplan for Lao. This plan will guide the MEM and other concerned parties on what steps are needed to be taken in order to use green gases widely and will greatly provide benefit to the overall efforts to produce green gas via power-to-gas technology commercially available and replace fossil fuels in the future.