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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bokeo hydropower plant on track

Construction of the Nam Nhone hydropower project, a small-scale power plant to be located in Bokeo province, will start later this year.
“The main components are the powerhouse and dam and we will begin work after the wet season,” said an official from the Contract Negotiation and Management Division of the Energy Promotion and Development Department, in an interview on Friday.
The hydropower plant, located in Tonpheugn district, will cost about 39 billion kip (US$4.5 million) to build. It is an investment between two businesses from Hong Kong with a shareholding of 70 percent, and a Lao investor.
Land is being cleared at the site to build the powerhouse and an access road.
A 22kV transmission line will be installed to bring electricity to the site. This will be 6km long and cost about 960 million kip (US$100,000).
“The plant is expected to be finished by the end of next year and energy generation should start in early 2010,” the official said.
The hydropower plant will have an installation capacity of 2.4 megawatts and a forecasted annual production of about 10.4GWh. The electricity will be sold to Electricite du Laos (EDL) for supply to Bokeo consumers.
The investors and EDL signed two agreements for energy purchase in February and a concession agreement in March 2006 following a feasibility study in 2005.
“This project won't affect the environment or local people because there won't be a large reservoir; there will be no population resettlement,” the official said.
Instead of a dam, the project will operate using a weir to raise the water level at the intake. As the water reservoir is small and will flood a very limited area, no homes or farmland land will be flooded, and the plant will not significantly change the water flow in the river.
It is expected the plant will contribute to the development of industrial activities in the province, creating jobs and stimulating the local economy with a fishing basin.
New infrastructure such as a road and a bridge will improve access to farmland, and the project will directly contribute to the electrification of local villages.
“The government is promoting the development of small-scale power plants and Nam Nhone is a model example of a private small-scale investment,” the official said.
The government considers this project important because it will be the only local energy source for Bokeo province, and may replace Thai electricity imports.
The government is urging the building of small and medium power plants for local supply to reduce the need for power imports. These plants will have installation capacities ranging from 2 to 100 megawatts.
Other small hydro plants planned for construction are on the Nam Ham in Botaen district, Xayaboury province, Tadslen in Xepon district, Savannakhet province, and the Nam Sim in Viengxay district, Huaphan province.
Laos currently has 11 major hydropower plants and at least 36 smaller projects. These generate energy for both domestic and export markets and have a combined installation capacity of more than 670 megawatts. The 36 smaller hydropower plants are government investments.

By VIENTIANE TIMES (Latest Update June 2, 2008)

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