Vientiane Times, 2 Oct 2014
Pakxong district of Champassak province might become a significant electricity generation location after more than ten companies have expressed their desire to invest in constructing both small and medium hydropower plants.
Some companies have already built their plants, while others are conducting feasibility studies for construction.
District Governor Mr Khamsy Pienvolavong told local media besides the potential for agricultural production and the processing and tourism industries to generate significant income for the region and local people, Paksong has considerable potential for investment in the hydropower sector.
So far, many foreign investors from numerous countries have shown interest in constructing both small and medium hydropower plants in the district, with the most interest coming from China, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Thailand.
In the past, provincial authorities had approved the construction of a hydropower plant on the Xe Pien-Xe Namnoy rivers.
The plant, with an installed capacity of 410 MW, is a joint venture between the Lao government (which holds a 24 percent share), Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. (26 percent), Korean Western Power Co Ltd (25 percent) and Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electric Generating Holding PLC (25 percent).
It is now about 5 percent complete and when finished in 2019, some of the electricity will be exported to Thailand with the remainder being utilised in Laos.
In addition, authorities have recently given the go-ahead for a Japanese company to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a medium sized hydropower plant on Xe Katam river.
The plant will have 60 MW installed capacity and the company is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government at the end of this year.
The government is promoting the rapid development of small and medium-sized power plants for domestic supply in order to reduce the need for imported electricity.
They are run-of-river schemes, meaning power generation will depend on the immediate river water flow. The plants are also free of some environmental impacts associated with large-scale construction due to its run-of-river design, which does not require a large dam or storage reservoir.
Instead, run-of-river projects generate electricity by diverting only part of the stream. This produces relatively little change in the stream channel and flow, as well as minimising the impact on fish migration, water quality, and wildlife habitats.