Laos Inaugurates Major Revenue-Generating Hydropower Plant

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), the tiny landlocked country in Southeast Asia of just 6.3 million people, in December inaugurated the 1,070-MW Nam Theun 2 Power Station, a hydropower project in Khammouane Province. It was constructed with financial aid from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Ninety percent of the electricity generated by the project is expected to be sold to Thailand, providing the PDR (also known as Laos) with an annual US$80 million revenue stream over the next 25 years.

Construction began on the project in June 2005, and the first export of electricity was made in March 2010. The plant also supplies around 20% of Laos’ peak demand. It was developed by the Nam Theun 2 Power Co., which is owned by Électricité de France International, Electricity Generating Public Co. (Thailand), and the Government of Lao PDR.

The project feeds on the abundant waters of the Nakai Plateau in central Laos and uses the 350-meter height difference between the plateau and the Gnommalath Plain below (Figure 3). According to the Nam Theun 2 Power Co., the energy in the falling water, channeled down a tunnel drilled through Karst Mountain, can generate an average 6,000 GWh of electricity per year.

3. Big fish in a small pond. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic in December inaugurated a 1,070-MW hydropower project, the Nam Theun 2 Power Station. About 90% of the power generated by the facility will be exported to neighboring Thailand, giving the tiny landlocked nation of Laos an annual US$80 million revenue stream over the next 25 years. It will also supply electricity for 20% of Laos’ peak demand. This image shows the view from the 39-meter-high, 436-meter-long concrete gravity Nakai Dam in October 2010. Courtesy: Stanislas Fradelizi/NTPC

Among the project’s key features is a 39-meter-high, 436-meter-long concrete gravity dam with integrated spillway. The power station is composed of four 250-MW Francis turbines for supplying power to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and two 37.5-MW Pelton turbines for supply to Électricité du Laos.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.