Laos to build a cascade of hydropower plants on the largest river in Indochina
thediplomat_2022-04-29-055428
Laos plans to build a 728 MW Phu Ngoy dam hydropower plant (HPP), as reports the Diplomat, a regional publication, citing the Mekong River Commission, an international organisation through which Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam coordinate the water resources use.

If approved by the Commission, the $2.4 billion project developed by Thai electricity company Charoen Energy and Water Asia (CEWA), will be implemented by 2029.

The dam will be located 18 kilometers north of the Pakse town, the administrative centre of Tyampasak province, southern Laos. The Phu Ngoi will be one of nine active and planned hydropower projects to be implemented on the mainstream of the Mekong River running through six countries (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar). The first two projects, i.e. Sayaburi (1,285 MW) and Don Sahong (260 MW) were commissioned in October 2019 and January 2020, respectively.

The construction of the HPP cascade will allow Laos to ensure a surplus of electricity with the possibility of subsequent exports to the neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, which in March 2020 imposed a ten-year moratorium on the HPP construction in its own Mekong water area. The project will also increase the role of hydropower in the local power generation: in 2021, the installed capacity of the RES power plants in Laos was 8,489 MW: the hydropower plants accounted for 8,349 MW and the bioenergy plants and solar panels for 140 MW, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); the Global Energy Monitor estimates that additional 1,878 MW of capacity came from the coal-fired power plants.

Asian countries remain the drivers of hydropower development, accounting for two-thirds of the new hydropower capacity commissioned between 2012 and 2021 (180 GW out of 270 GW, according to IRENA). The global share of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, which commissioned 14.7 GW of new HPP capacity was 5 percent.

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