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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Study for Huaphan hydropower plant behind schedule

Construction of the Nam Sim hydropower project in Huaphan province was set to begin earlier this year, but this has not been possible because the feasibility study is not yet complete.

“We can't say when construction will begin because the investors are working slowly,” an official from the Contract Negotiation and Management Division of the Energy Promotion and Development Department said recently.

Work cannot begin on the small-scale hydropower plant until the study is complete. Norwegian investors signed a project development agreement with the government last year.

“The investors are working on additional surveys to obtain more details about the project,” the official said.

The agreement for the project was signed between Norpower AS Company and the Ministry of Planning and Investment last October.

The company began researching the project in 2003, carrying out an initial feasibility study and engineering survey and analysing potential environmental impacts before submitting the findings to the government in 2006 for approval.

“The investors are also preparing some documents and seeking a bank loan to help finance the project,” the official said.

The hydropower plant, to be built in Viengxay district, will cost about 138 billion kip (US$14.4 million). The government will hold a 25 percent investment share.

The investors estimate it will take two years to build the plant, which will have an installed capacity of 7.8MW and will generate electricity for local supply.

The company will operate the plant for 25 years after construction, and sell the electricity generated to Electricite du Laos (EDL) for use in the province.

“The company has not yet signed a purchase agreement with EDL,” the official said.

The hydropower plant will reduce the need for the purchase of electricity from Vietnam , and will help to develop the province's infrastructure and economy.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines' 2007 annual report, Laos imported 475.9 million kWh from Thailand , China and Vietnam last year.

The government is currently promoting the rapid development of small and medium power plants for local supply to reduce the need for imported electricity.

These plants will have installed capacities ranging from 2 to 100MW.

Other small hydropower plants planned are on the Nam Nhone in Tonpheung district, Bokeo province, the Nam Ham in Botaen district, Xayaboury province, Tadslen in Xepon district, Savannakhet province, and Xelanong 2 in Ta-oy district, Saravan province.

Laos currently has a combined installed capacity of about 670MW from 11 major and 36 smaller and medium hydropower plants, which generate energy for both domestic and export markets.

These plants generate approximately 3.5 billion kWh per year, of which about 2.2 billion kWh is exported to Thailand.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update June 19, 2008)

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