Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

Lao PDR’s resource-based economy is driven by forestry, agriculture, hydropower and minerals. Together, these sectors account for more than half of Lao PDR’s total wealth. Lao PDR will need to diversify its economy and increase environmental sustainability through robust management of its natural resources, including land resources. 

The country’s low per capita material and energy consumption, combined with its relatively low population density, leaves Lao PDR considerable room to grow its extractive and production activities without reaching the intensities of deleterious environmental impacts that are seen elsewhere. 

The expansion of hydroelectricity routinely excludes large areas of land and previously productive river systems from their former uses. Both mining and hydroelectricity development have been crucial in greatly increasing the Lao PDR's export income and integration into the global economy in recent years, and so facilitating further human development. It is important, however, that the relative benefits of continuing along this path of development be weighed against the alternative of using the country’s mineral and energy supplies as inputs to higher value added products. 

The current electricity consumption in Lao PDR is fairly low and hydropower is the most important power producing resource. Lao PDR exports electricity to Thailand and Vietnam while at times also importing from China and Thailand. Barriers to rural electrification include difficulties to access communities living in mountainous terrain as well as road deterioration in the wet season.

Despite these barriers, Lao PDR aims to implement one type of technical intervention – the establishment of mini electricity grids. Rural communities, tourism activities, agricultural facilities, health centers, schools and literacy centers are the focus of these mini grids, due to their demand for electricity for lighting, cooling and appliances. The mini grids will predominantly use renewable energy sources (powered by hydro or solar) and will provide electricity for lighting, service and production activities to support livelihoods, radio for communications and other household uses.  

A comparison of greenhouse gas inventories for 1990 and 2000 shows that emissions had doubled in ten years. Lao PDR recorded a net sink of CO2 in 1990 and a net emission by year 2000. Of the total CO2 emissions, nearly all were emitted by land-use change and forestry. The agriculture sector produced the greatest share of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Climate change mitigation will depend on reversing the loss of forests and other land use changes. 

Lao PDR has made progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, spearheaded by the Institute of Renewable Energy Promotions in the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people with electricity increased from 78 to 87 percent, and the numbers without electricity dipped to just below one billion.

Yet as the population continues to grow, so will the demand for cheap energy, and an economy reliant on fossil fuels is creating drastic changes to our climate.

Investing in solar, wind and thermal power, improving energy productivity, and ensuring energy for all is vital if we are to achieve SDG 7 by 2030.

Expanding infrastructure and upgrading technology to provide clean and more efficient energy in all countries will encourage growth and help the environment.  

Facts and figures

1 in 7

One in 7 people still lacks electricity, and most of them live in rural areas of the developing world.


Energy is the main contributor to climate change, it produces around 60 percent of greenhouse gases.


More efficient energy standards could reduce building and industry electricity consumption by 14 percent.

3 billion

More than 40 percent of the world’s population—3 billion—rely on polluting and unhealthy fuels for cooking.


As of 2015, more than 20 percent of power was generated through renewable sources.

10.3 million

The renewable energy sector employed a record 10.3 million people in 2017.

  • By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

  • By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

  • By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

  • By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology

  • By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support
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