Laos commits to diversifying energy sources to minimize imports

More than 91% of the electricity consumed in Laos comes from hydroelectric power stations. EDL-GEN

The government of Laos has pledged to diversify its energy sources by developing solar, wind and coal-fired power plants to cope with the shortage of electricity during the dry season.

These developments will support government efforts to increase the amount of energy exported and minimize the amount of electricity re-imported from neighboring countries during the dry season.

Addressing the National Assembly recently, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Daovong Phonekeo, said that Laos has huge potential to generate energy from hydro, solar and wind power plants in sell to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

In 2020, Laos had 82 power sources with a combined installed capacity of over 10,000 MW. Of this total, 80.4% comes from hydroelectricity and 18.6% from coal-fired power plants.

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

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

By 2030, Laos is expected to produce another 5,559 MW of electricity. Of this total, 77.59% will come from hydroelectricity and the rest will come from solar, wind and coal-fired power plants.

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

Laos and Thailand exchange electricity through Electricité du Laos (EdL) and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat). When Laos experiences a power shortage due to population or trade growth, it can source power from Thailand through its transmission lines.

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

“The main reason we want to generate more electricity from coal-fired power is to minimize the amount of re-imported electricity and to address the electricity shortage during the dry season,” Dr Daovong said.

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

The first power station will be built by Phonesack Group Co Ltd in Kaleum district with an installed capacity of 1,800 MW. 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 an installed capacity of 700 MW.

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