Tests were run last week on the first of four electricity generators at the Don Sahong hydropower plant on the Mekong River in Laos’ Champasak province, after construction began in January 2016.
“According to the plan, the Don Sahong Power Company will test each energy generator every 10 days and of all the generators should be fully operational by the end of this year,” said an official from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
“The investors in the $500 million project include a Malaysian company, Mega First Corporation Berhad, with an 80 per cent share, while EDL-GEN holds the remaining 20 per cent,” he added.
The test was witnessed by the Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath along with other officials from the government and private sectors.
“The testing of engine number one is a great achievement because it has taken place ahead of the construction plan,” said Khammany.
Construction of the Don Sahong dam is being undertaken by the Don Sahong Power Company with the plant to have an installed capacity of 260MW.
The dam is located at the southern end of the Sahong channel, one of seven major channels of the Mekong River in the Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) area that flows over a geological feature called the “great fault line”.
“The dam is located in Khong district and is a run-of-river scheme which utilises five per cent of the water that passes through the dam to generate electricity. It is an environmentally friendly and sustainable project,” Khammany said.
When it is fully operational, the dam will solve the power shortage in the southern provinces including Champasak.
Electricite du Laos (EdL) will port a connection from Tower 23 of Mega First’s newly-completed Don Sahong-Ban Hat transmission line straight to the Laos-Cambodia border, Malaysia’s the Star reported last week.
EdL’s “interim” transmission line is expected to be completed in December, said the report. Electricite du Cambodge is constructing a 60km stretch on the Cambodian side in Stung Treng province.
Laos’ hydropower industry is developing fast. In 2005, there were only nine hydro plants across the country with an installed capacity of 680MW, generating 3,237kWh per year.
Today, 63 dams are operational with 7,207MW of installed capacity which can generate 37,366kWh per year. Another 37 dams are under construction and expected to be complete by 2020-2021 with an installed capacity of 5,170MW, generating 25,276 kWh per year.
There are plans to build a further 55 dams with 2,570MW of installed capacity. Meanwhile, feasibility studies have been carried out on 282 hydro plants with planned 13,256MW of installed capacity that would generate 52,000kWh of electricity per year when built.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK