The 100 Largest Hydropower Plants in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Published: 22-03-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/ht9k5p3vdb.1
Cecilia Springer,
Dinah Shi,
Valentine Shang


China plays an increasingly large role in global energy and electricity sector development through its overseas investment. The Chinese hydropower industry has come to dominate global hydropower development, particularly in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which consists of the countries along the mainstream Mekong River – Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. In order to investigate patterns of Chinese and other overseas hydropower developers in the GMS region, we assembled a dataset of hydropower projects in the five GMS countries excluding China. This unit-level dataset was initialized by merging four datasets: the Platts World Electric Power Plants database, the Stimson Center Mekong Infrastructure Tracker, Boston University China’s Global Power Database, and the WRI Global Power Plant Database. Each of these databases has varying technological and financial information at the plant level. We first aggregated the Platts database by plant rather than unit for uniformity. Then we used a Ruby script to build a concordance table, which matched plant names used in different databases. The script iterates through all databases except WRI’s GPPD, applying each of four strategies to the plant name string to find matches across data sources: 1) manual overrides, 2) naive string match, 3) ignoring suffixes, 4) using alternates. Next, the script iterates through the unmatched plant names and aggregates plants by phase. If one source has a project aggregated by phase where other sources list each phase separately, the phases are added to the concordance table to match the aggregated project name. Then the WRI GPPD is incorporated into the concordance table by matching on Platts database ID or plant name where no ID is available. Finally, a merged database including all attributes across data sources was constructed using the concordance table, where capacity is summed when aggregation is required. We selected the 100 largest hydropower plants, in terms of capacity, for verification and collection of additional data. When not already identified by the Platts data, we performed a web search to identify the company name and country of origin for developer companies, their parent companies, and construction companies for each plant. Where there was a discrepancy between the four datasets on basic characteristics of the plant – namely, capacity, status, or year, we performed a web search to find a reliable and recent source of information to confirm the data. We also used a literature review and web search to fill in data on key features related to the size of the associated dam and reservoir for each plant. For discrepancies and missing data, we welcome feedback and contributions from users of this dataset.