Vientiane Times, June 14, 2012
As the world attempts to move away from fossil fuels, renewable energy sources like hydropower will become increasingly important, and in Laos it already represents a major component of energy production compared to other places.
A recent global survey indicated that while hydropower is an important energy resource for power generation, only a small increase has been observed in the sector as a share of total primary energy consumption worldwide.
The change was only 2.2 percent in 2008, according to the information in a booklet produced by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, which was
distributed at a recent seminar held in Vientiane on the renewable energy development strategy in Laos.
Despite the fact that hydropower is developing rapidly in Laos, the country’s power plants represent a miniscule share of the 2.2 percent generated worldwide, an official from the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ Institute of Renewable Energy Promotion said yesterday.
The booklet noted that the small change observed in hydropower is largely because hydropower development in developed countries has reached saturation point and the slight increase is due to projects in the developing world.
As the large hydropower resources of developed countries have already been exploited, future large hydropower development will take place in non-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
The booklet also noted the global hydropower growth rate is around 1.9 percent per year and the share in the total primary energy demand will remain at 2 percent. Yet by 2030 the share of hydropower in world total power generation is expected to reach 14 percent.
Hydropower development in Laos is growing rapidly, and it is estimated that there is the technical potential to develop around 26,000 megawatts (MW) in total, without taking into account the small scale hydropower sites below 15MW, which have an estimated potential of around 2,000MW on their own.
Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Mr Khammany Inthirath said recently that Laos currently has 16 hydropower plants with an installed capacity of 2,559.7MW, which have the potential to generate 12,821 million kWh of electricity per year.
Laos also has 37 small-scale hydropower plants, which have installed capacities not exceeding 1MW that have a total generation capacity of 6.59MW annually.
“By 2015 we will attempt to build enough hydropower plants to give Laos an installed capacity of 3,856MW, and produce around 19,184 million kWh of electricity per year,” Mr Khammany said.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), total primary energy consumption worldwide in 2008 counted for 12,267 MTOE (million
tonnes of oil equivalent), and the share of renewable energy resources was 12.9 percent.
Of the renewable energy share, combustible biomass and wastes accounted for 10.0 percent, while a relatively small change was observed in hydropower, up from 1.8 to 2.2 percent.
The booklet noted that in Laos, currently some 802,400 families living in 5,934 villages in 139 districts have access to electricity, which represents 76.9 percent of the total households in the country.
By 2015, the government aims to increase the number of households with access to electricity to about 85 percent and hopes to increase this number to more than 90 percent by 2020.
The booklet noted that in 2008 renewable energy provided 19 percent of the world’s final energy demand, including traditional biomass,
hydropower, solar energy, wind, geothermal energy and bio-energy.
Of those 19 percent, traditional biomass, mainly used for cooking and heating, counted for 13 percent and decreased slightly, due to more
efficient use of biomass and the availability of modern energy services.
“Hydropower accounted for 3.2 percent and is slowly increasing but from a large base,” the booklet noted.