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Friday, February 8, 2008

Japanese research helps power remote villages

Dr Bosaikham Vongdara ( right ) and Mr Kazuki Koizawa exchange documents at the Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane on Wednesday.

A Japanese research organisation will build an integrated electricity generation system in remote May district, Phongsaly province, to demonstrate the possibility of renewable energy in Laos .
Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Bosaikham Vongdara and the Executive Director of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), Mr Kazuki Koizawa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday allowing the organisation to conduct a feasibility study and construct a hybrid solar/hydropower plant as part of its research, until 2010.
Director General of the Energy Department Mr Vilaphone Chaleunsouk said yesterday that cooperation between the ministry and the Japanese organisation would be beneficial to both sides.
NEDO hopes this research project will show the government that there are other options for producing renewable energy in Laos . The integrated system will be harmless to the environment, but will still be able to produce sufficient electricity for a small community, he said.
The overall electricity generation capacity of the integrated system will be 190 megawatts with 40 megawatts coming from solar energy.
NEDO plans to complete the integrated system by 2009, to provide power to 700 households in 10 villages in May district; government offices, hospitals and schools in the district will benefit from the electricity supply, according to a press release from the ministry.
Mr Vilaphone said NEDO would spend US$3 to 4 million overall to establish and run the project from 2008 to 2010. The organisation will hand over the project to the Lao government when its research is completed in 2010.
This power system is efficient and suitable for remote areas, and the installation will be cheap and environmentally friendly, according to an official from the electricity department.
He explained that the integrated system runs in harmony, with each generator supporting the other. For example, when there is stronger sunlight during the dry season, the solar system will produce more power, while the hydropower plant will have a lower water supply at this time.
He went on to say that when it was raining, the hydropower system would run at full capacity and in case of emergency, the turbines can supply electricity.
This is the second research project that NEDO will run in Laos ; the first trial of an integrated power project was in Nga district, Oudomxay province, between 2003 and 2006. It was an 80 MW hydropower plant, with a 100 MW solar power system, and provided sufficient power to 780 households in 10 villages.
NEDO was established by the Japanese government in 1980 to develop new oil-alternative energy technologies. Eight years later, their activities were expanded to include environmental and industrial technology research and development.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy (Latest Update February 08, 2008)

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