The Nam Theun 2 Dam Project will start supplying electricity to Thailand next month. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have reportedly agreed to buy electricity from Laos' Hongsa lignite project despite statement by an environmental conservation group that it will continue to oppose the purchase of electricity from Laos by Thailand.
The Nam Theun 2 dam project investor group recently re-affirmed that it has completed the trial operation and generation of electricity as well as addressing all technical defects of the dam; therefore, it is confident that the dam will be able to deliver electricity to EGAT or the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, beginning in March for 25 years.
However, even though the NT 2 dam will be able to start supplying electricity to
EGAT as early as next month, the dam's operation is still three months behind the deadline stated in its agreement with EGAT, as it had to temporarily suspend its trial
generation of electricity last year to avoid releasing water downstream while Khammouane province, where the dam is located, was heavily flooded.
The Nam Theun 2 Dam has a 1,088-megawatt capacity; of which 997 megawatts will be supplied to EGAT
while the Electricity Du Laos, who is a partner in the project, will keep the rest for
domestic consumption. This dam is expected to generate anl income totalling $5 billion to its investors throughout
the 25-year concession period.
In addition to buying electricity from the Namtheun II project, EGAT has also received approval from Thailand's National Energy Policy Commission to buy electricity from the Hongsa Lignite Project in Sayabouly province of Laos. It plans to sign an agreement with the project's investors in March. The Hongsa project, with a capacity to generate 1,800 megawatts of electricity, is a joint-venture between Laos' State Holdings Enterprise, which holds a 20% stake, and two Thai companies with a 40% share respectively. The Hongsa lignite project is a $3.9 billion investment, and expected to supply electricity to EGAT by 2015.
Hoping to become Southeast Asia's largest energy exporter or the "Battery of ASEAN," Laos has so far granted approval to 62 proposed energy projects to conduct feasibility studies, aiming to supply 7,000 megawatts of electricity to Thailand, starting from 2015. However, this goal will likely not be easy to reach as it faces significant challenges arising from the opposition by environment protection groups in Thailand, who have explicitly stated their commitment to oppose dam constructions in this area, arguing that Thailand has more energy in its reserves than it actually needs. Thus it is unnecessary for Thailand to further import electricity from other countries.
Songrit Pongern reported in Lao from Bangkok on February 19, 2010