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Laos pledges to diversify energy sources to minimise imports

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More than 91 per cent of the electricity consumed in Laos comes from hydropower plants. EDL-GEN

Laos pledges to diversify energy sources to minimise imports

Lao’s government has vowed to diversify its sources of energy by developing solar, wind power and coal-fired power plants to address the electricity shortage in the dry season.

These developments will support government efforts to increase the amount of energy exported and minimise the amount of electricity re-imported from neighbouring countries in the dry season.

Addressing the National Assembly recently, Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Daovong Phonekeo said Laos has huge potential to produce energy from hydro, solar and wind-powered plants for sale to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

As of 2020, Laos had 82 sources of energy with a combined installed capacity of more than 10,000MW. Of the total, 80.4 per cent comes from hydropower and 18.6 per cent from coal-fired power plants.

“About 91.49 per cent of the electricity consumed in Laos comes from hydropower plants,” Dr Daovong said, adding that diversification of power sources will enable Laos to ensure energy security.

“From 2021-2025, we plan to produce 1,807MW of electricity, with hydropower accounting for 57 per cent of the total, coal-fired power 19 per cent and solar power 24 per cent,” he added.

By 2030, it is planned that Laos will produce another 5,559MW of electricity. Of the total, 77.59 per cent will come from hydropower and the rest will come from solar, wind and coal-fired power plants.

Laos’ capacity for solar power is expected to range from 10,000MW to 15,000MW, while wind power potential is estimated at around 100,000MW.

Laos and Thailand exchange electricity via Electricite du Laos (EdL) and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat). When Laos has a shortage of electricity because of population or business growth, it can source electricity from Thailand through its transmission lines.

The main challenge is that about 1,500MW of potential electricity generation is wasted by hydropower stations during the high-flow wet season, but Laos has to import more electricity from Thailand in the dry season. The price EDL pays for this imported power makes it almost twice as expensive as imported electricity sourced from Egat.

“The main reason we want to produce more electricity from coal-fired power is to minimise the amount of reimported power and address the electricity shortage in the dry season,” Dr Daovong said.

Earlier in the year, he told Vientiane Times that two coal-fired power plants are planned for Xekong province. These plants will become operational and begin transmitting electricity to Cambodia in 2025.

The first power plant will be built by Phonesack Group Co Ltd in Kaleum district, with installed capacity of 1,800MW. The second power plant will be built in Lamam district by a Chinese company which plans to invest more than $1 billion in the project, and will have installed capacity of 700MW.


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