Vientiane Times, 30 January 2015
As investment in the power generation sector continues to grow, the government is keen to see the hydropower industry produce 50 percent of the country’s potential by 2020.
Laos has the potential to generate more than 20,000 MW from hydropower, as the country has already completed the construction of 23 projects with a total installed capacity of 3,200 MW, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Mr Viraphonh Viravong told local media this week.
The country is also beginning the construction of another 31 projects with a total installed capacity of 5,500 MW, he said.
Investment in the energy and mines sector has taken up 70 percent of the total investment in the country and the sector’s exports combine to produce 75 percent of the total, according to the ministry.
Most of the investments come from the domestic and foreign private sectors with some shared with the government because of the high development cost.
Electricity generation projects have contributed a lot of government revenue through the sale of concessions and the investment in the country’s infrastructure development as well as improving people’s living conditions.
Thousands of local people have got better jobs and developed additional skills after they started working on the projects, many roads have been improved and there is now easier access to education and healthcare after people have been resettled.
The first priority for developments in this sector is that all parties involved, whether they are government, business partners or investors, assume full responsibility for ensuring minimal, long-term environmental impact.
After a hydropower project is ready for generation other related sectors benefit with an increase in agriculture, irrigation, fisheries, industry, tourism and general services.
According to the 10-year socio-economic development strategy between 2016 and 2025, the government, through the Ministry of Energy and Mines, will encourage the development of additional sources of energy which can become high value products for the country. Under Vision 2030, the government will fully develop all forms of energy production, focusing on output and efficiency, as well as integrating with the region’s realised and potential energy supplies, sufficient to meet market demand.
Sustainability in energy generation is stressed, as well as environmental friendliness, the establishment of market mechanisms and the full participation of local people.