Vientiane Times, March 28, 2014
The government has granted permission for a local company to build the Nam Ngum 4 hydropower project in Paek district of Xieng Khuang province to supply the rising demand for electricity in Laos.
The Lao company, known as VLV Xoumphonphakdy Company will invest US$322 million in the dam, which is expected to take five years to develop before electricity generation commences.
With an installed capacity of 220 MW, the project is expected to generate 822kWh annually through the Electricite du Laos grid, mainly to supply the northern regions.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in Vientiane this week between Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong and the company director Mr Vilayvone Xoumphonphakdy.
The signing ceremony was at tended by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, who supervises economic affairs, and officials from relevant sectors as well as local authorities.
Nam Ngum 4 hydropower project is located 30km from Paek district capital. The project was initially designed to be built as two dams but a survey found that if it was built as two dams the project would cause unsatisfactory environmental and social issues so the company has been given permission for one dam only.
The project is part of the government’s policy to produce more electricity to supply the needs of local people and accommodate the growing industrial sector in Laos.
Officials have said the project will also play an important role in socio-economic development in Laos as well as improving the livelihoods of local people in the northern provinces.
Laos has considerable potential for hydropower development as it has many rivers that are suitable for this type of project. The government has stated that hydropower development can help the country to alleviate poverty and escape from least developed country status by 2020.
So far Laos has 24 operational power plants with a total installed capacity of 3,245MW. Combined, these are generating more than 16,100 GWh annually for local and export markets.
The 24 plants include 14 under the management of independent power producers that have an installed capacity of about 2,854MW and 10 plants under the management of Electricite du Laos, which have an installed capacity of more than 390MW.
On March 11, Xenamnoy 1, which is one of four power plants that are set to begin commercial operation this year, started full-scale commercial electricity generation, with the others being Xekaman 3, Nam Sana and Nam Ngiep 3A.
Eight additional hydropower plants will begin commercial operation next year, with a combined installed capacity of around 2,976MW.
Another five power plants are also scheduled to commence generation in 2016 and they will have an installed capacity of about 514MW.