Hydropower, as an affordable, reliable and sustainable source of electricity, has played an important role in the growth and industrialisation of many emerging market economies such as Laos, Kenya, Sarawak (Malaysia), China (1980s and 90s), and Brazil, to list just a few.
Nevertheless, the hydropower potential of many emerging market countries remains undeveloped due to the difficulties surrounding project bankability, particularly the credit risk of domestic offtakers, and a risk reward imbalance in the eyes of investors.
The governments and state-owned utilities of some of these countries may have the option of exporting hydropower production to a neighbouring country for the development of such potential. Opportunities for export can offer many benefits when compared with a hydropower project established exclusively for domestic production, but also present unique risks.
This briefing explores the opportunities and the challenges of power trade for the hydropower sector.