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June 14, 2007

Govt gives green light to study hydropower plant
The Lao Government has agreed two Chinese companies to conduct a survey for Hydroelectric Power Development Project in Paklay district of Xayaboury province.

“This is a hydroelectricity development project the government plans to build to generate electricity to supply domestic consumers and for export to neighbouring countries,” said a press release announcing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lao government on 11 June in Vientiane.

The overseas market includes Thailand, where demands were for about 1,500 megawatts (MW) in 1993, these increased to about 5,000 MW at the end of last year.
The companies are now preparing to conduct the survey, and will include technical, economic, social, and environmental considerations. The survey will be carried out by the Sinohydro Corporation and the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation.

The companies will move on to further project agreements involving the development phase, and concession agreements for dam construction, if the results are economically viable.

Managing Director of Sinohydro Corporation Mr Zeng Xinglian said the new development had the potential to be an immense project with an installation capacity of about 1,320 MW. The companies may invest about 16.2 trillion kip (US$ 1,700 million ).

If the project is found to be economically viable in the long term, the company expects it will operate the venture for 30 years, including the construction period.
At present, there is no dam in the province capable of generating electricity, the main electricity supply for the province comes from the Nam Ngum 1 hydropower plant in Vientiane province. the rest is imported from Thailand.

An official from Electricte du Laos in Xayaboury province said recently the province imported about 6 million kWh (kilowatt hours) from Thailand in 2002, but last year imports rose to more than 15 million kWh.

Electricte du Laos has to import electricity because it does not have the funds to expand transmission lines in the province, it may be able to reduce imports of power if lines carrying electricity generated in Laos could reach every district in the province.

The province also has other proposed hydropower projects, such as the one on the Nam Ham River and the Hongsa lignite –fired power plant. lignite is a soft brown coal that shows traces of plant material.

The survey of the Nam Ham hydroelectric power project was completed by a local investor in Botaen district. the electricity generated by the project will supply the needs of four districts in the province-Botaen, Kaenthao, Paklai and Thongmixay –and enable the province to reduce the electricity it imports from Thailand.

The Hongsa lignite –fired power plant project may make a concession agreement with the government this year. the project plans to sell power to Thailand from 2012.
Construction may start in late 2008 or early 2009 and is a joint venture between the Lao government and a Thai investor.

It will have an installation capacity of 1,800 MW, and most of the power generate will be exported to Thailand. Only about 50 MW will be supplied to local users. KPL


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