(KPL) The Lao government has designed a policy to make sure hydropower development will not be only for electrification purposes but also for boosting the growth in a number of sectors, an energy official has said.
“Once hydropower projects have been developed, we can have electricity for domestic consumption, business operation, water for irrigation purposes, and commercial production thus contributing to poverty reduction and improving living standards,” said Director General of the Department of Energy Policy and Planning, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Mr Daovong Phonekeo.
“The Nam Theun 2 Project in Khammuan Province, for example, can water thousands hectares of rice farmland, while the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Hydroelectric Power Project can also irrigate several hundreds of hectares of farmlands in southern provinces,” said Mr Daovong.
A delegation comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and US Ambassador to Laos Daniel A. Clune last month visited the construction site of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project, one of the major development projects of the government, in Champassak Province.
Giving an interview to the media, Mr Daovong noted that once fully built, the Don Sahong Hydropower Project, with an installed generation capacity of 260 MW, will also serve as a basin for breeding young fish for farming purposes and ecological protection in the Mekong River and others natural rivers.
The approximately US$500 million project has been scheduled to be fully built and commence commercial generation of electricity in 2019 at an annual rate of about 2,000 GWh.
“We will develop hydropower projects not only for electricity generation, but also for such multi-purposes as tourism promotion, flood and drought management, agricultural production, and water transport of goods,” added Mr Daovong.
In Vision 2030, the government plans to build at least 19 hydropower projects with a combined installed generation capacity of 3,500 megawatts by 2020 increasing the number of hydropower plants in the country to 60 and generating additional annual power of over 60,000 Gwh.
Today there are 38 hydropower projects that are operational in the country. These projects have a combined generation capacity of 6,265 MW.
To date, more than 85% of villages, or 90% of households in the country have permanent access to electricity all year round.