Laos to boost power infrastructure

By Joe Sargent02 March 2020

Nam Ngum Dam

The Nam Ngum hydroelectric dam in Laos

The Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines is implementing new measures and standards for dam safety in a bid to boost electricity sales to Laos’ foreign trading partners.

The energy market is key for Laos as the country exports power to neighbouring nations and ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore.

National consumption for the country in 2019 was 1222MW, but this demand is expected to increase by a further 1,800MW by 2025.

Currently the country exports over 5,620MW of electricity just to Thailand but, under its ambitious directive, Laos expects to increase electricity exports to about 20,000MW by 2030.

To reach these targets, the government of Laos is now working to improve dam safety.

A report submitted at the annual meeting of the energy and mines sector earlier this year indicated that the ministry plans to conduct safety inspections at both mega and small-scale hydropower projects nationwide.

Laos currently has 354 small-scale hydropower projects, including plants that are operational, under construction, and for which memorandums of understanding are being prepared.

The small-scale dam inspection teams are expected to examine 39 operational projects, 24 plants under construction and a further 291 projects for which feasibility studies are underway.

A total of 55 mega hydropower projects are also set to receive inspections, including 29 operational plants, 22 plants under construction, and four hydro plants for which project designs are being completed.

All inspections will reportedly be carried out in collaboration with central and local authorities as well as foreign experts.

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