By Somsack Pongkhao
December 11, 2012
Two Chinese companies have expressed interest in setting up a state training and civil engineer experiment centre in Laos, to facilitate future hydropower development.
The two companies, Sinohydro Group and HydroChina Kunming Engineering Corporation, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines in Vientiane yesterday.
The MoU will allow the Chinese companies to conduct a feasibility study of the project over a period of 18 months.
Director General of the Department of Energy Policy and Planning, Dr Daovong Phonekeo, representing the Ministry of Energy and Mines, signed the agreement with the two companies.
If the feasibility study results are positive, construction of the centre can begin. It would be the first facility of its kind in Laos, government officials said on Monday.
The companies say they would spend about US$5 million to build the training and experiment centre in Dongbang village, Xaythany district.
Testing of the functions of hydropower dams such as Xayaboury currently have to be carried out in other countries.
The Chinese companies will send experts to instruct Lao officials. The training and experiment centre would also feature models of dams built in Laos.
Laos has high potential for hydropower development and is poised to take advantage of the rising demand for energy in the region.
The government believes hydropower development can help Laos to escape least-developed country status by 2020.
Electricity generation can also aid economic growth and development in Laos and the region.
Laos has the potential to develop about 100 hydropower dams with a total capacity of 28,000MW. Currently, 17 dams are in operation with a total installed capacity of 2,500MW.
Hydropower accounts for about one third of the capital wealth of the entire country.