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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  27 October 2010

Laos to develop renewable energy

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The Ministry of Energy and Mines expects to complete a draft of the renewable energy development strategy and will submit it to the government for approval by the end of this year.

"We have completed the initial draft, with the work funded by the government of Finland," said the ministry's Electricity Department Deputy Director General, Hatsady Sysoulath. "Once the government approves the strategy, we expect to fully implement it next year."

Hatsady spoke at a press conference during the Energy and Environment Partnership Mekong Regional Forum held in Vientiane yesterday.

The forum addressed the building of partnerships for implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the Mekong region.

Finland's Under-Secretary of State for Development Policy and Development Cooperation, Mrs Ritva Koukku-Ronde, said at the forum "Laos is currently preparing its first renewable energy strategy with Finnish support."

Renewable energy developments in Laos will mainly focus on bio-fuel, small scale hydropower plants that are lower than 15 megawatts, solar energy, bio-gas, ethanol and wind. Lao Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Somboun Rasasombath said the government wants renewable energy to comprise about 30 percent of total energy use by 2025. "This 30 percent will include 10 percent bio-fuel to replace imported fossil fuel," Mr Somboun said.

Since the world fuel crisis and the price rises of 2007 and 2008, the government has advised the energy and mines ministry in drafting the renewable energy strategy.

Mr Hatsady said Laos had not previously had its own strategy, but had carried out renewable energy development in cooperation with both the state and private sectors.

At present about 20,000 families in Laos use solar energy and almost 10,000 families use bio-gas. Small-scale hydropower plants are also being developed.

"We plan to develop energy from wind with assistance from Finland for equipment installation," Mr. Hatsady said.

However, funding for renewable energy development in Laos is a challenge and "we still need assistance from Finland and the Nordic Development Fund," he added.

Mrs. Koukku-Ronde said "Finland is pleased to provide some initial funding for this development."

Funding will not only be the government's responsibility, but will also involve investment by the private sector.

Mrs. Koukku-Ronde said it was important that the government of a country should have a policy to promote and facilitate investment by the private sector in renewable energy development. Finland engages in development cooperation with countries and has several ongoing projects in Laos.

The two-day forum is being attended by government officials and private sector representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

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