By Khamphone Syvongxay
January 9, 2013
The government views electricity generation as a major contribution to socio-economic development and efforts to reduce poverty in Laos.
To further bolster the country’s revenue and advance technology, President Choummaly Sayasone has called on the energy and mines sector to produce more electricity, both for domestic use and export.
Speaking on Tuesday during a visit with his wife to the Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project in Khammuan province, he said Laos has the potential to develop many hydropower plants.
Some plants are already generating electricity, while many other projects are under construction.
To guarantee the sustaina-bility of both energy production and the environment, President Choummaly calle d on the agencies responsible to ensure they are well managed in line with international standards.
He also urged hydropower developers to train their staff and constantly improve the knowledge and skills of their Lao employees so they could match their foreign counterparts. He said Lao technicians could learn from foreign experts, both for their own development and the benefit of the projects they worked on.
The president expressed admiration for the energy and mines sector, which can now supply electricity to about 80 percent of households nationwide.
“I am very happy that there are now many villagers in rural areas able to receive electricity, providing them with better facilities, more comforts and generally improving their living conditions,” President Choummaly said.
Theun-Hinboun is a major hydropower project which has recognised its responsibilities towards social development and environmental protection and has generated significant income for Laos.
The inauguration of the Theun-Hinboun hydropower expansion project will take place on Friday after the plant was built over three years in Borikhamxay and Khammuan provinces.
The original Theun-Hinboun dam, which has an installed capacity of 220MW, is located in Borikhamxay province, with the expansion having been built in adjacent Khammuan province.
The expansion aims to increase the supply of energy for local distribution and export. It will increase the generating capacity of the plant from 220MW to 500MW. The power generated will be divided between two customers with 440MW going to Thailand and the remaining 60MW being sold to EDL for local supply.
Once the power plant expansion is fully operational its 500MW capacity will in one year be able to generate about 3,000GWh and an income of US$150 million, according to EDL.
The Theun-Hinboun Power Company Limited (THPC) has spent about 6.2 trillion kip (US$720 million) on the project. Sixty percent of THPC is owned by government stakeholders through EDL, while Nordic Hydro (Statkraft) and GMS Lao each hold a 20 percent stake.