Vientiane Times, November 19 2012
As Laos gears up to become a global hydropower force, the country is taking seriously its responsibility to train officials working in the industry. The knowledge boost will help officials to prevent and address any negative impacts of the dams that are being built.
Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Viraphon Viravong on Friday presented certificates to senior officials from Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal after they took a five day training course in Vientiane last week on hydropower risk management.
The training is part of Laos’ efforts to build modern hydropower plants in such a way that will minimise their social and environmental impacts.
The government considers hydropower to be critical in creating a secure supply of energy for Laos. It also aims to generate capital from the export of energy to neighbouring countries.
Laos could potentially build 120 hydropower plants with a combined generating capacity of 28,000MW. At present, Laos has 17 dams which generate less than a tenth of this power.
Training course organisers said the main objective of the course was to make participants aware of new international trends in risk management within hydropower development, so they would be equipped to deal with the fallout should such risk-taking result in something going wrong.
The International Centre for Hydropower (ICH) hosted the South East Asian regional training course. It was attended by employees from both public and private companies in Laos and neighbouring nations.
ICH is a non-profit organisation, set up to ensure those working in the hydropower industry are competent in their roles, and to promote the sustainable development of hydropower resources. Major power generator Electricite du Laos and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) were also involved in the course.
Participants learned the key principles of hydropower risk management, with a particular focus on developing countries. This focus will allow them to create tailor-made approaches to risk management which are appropriate to their area of work. As well as region-specific information, they also learned about the global vision for the assessment of risks in the hydropower field. This area of expertise focused on teaching them how to identify and evaluate risks, including both construction and operational risks.
They then learned how these areas of risk could affect all other parties involved in a project, such as sponsors, host government, commercial insurance companies, international financial institutions, private sector lenders and export credit agencies.