Asia and Oceania, Environmental, New Development

Second phase of 1,156-MW Nam Ou hydro project kicks off in Laos

An opening ceremony was held April 28 to kick off the second phase of construction of Laos’ 1,156-MW Nam Ou River Basin Hydropower Project, according to Vientiane Times.

During the first phase, construction was completed on the Nam Ou 2, Nam Ou 5 and Nam Ou 6 plants. The first unit began generating electricity in November 2015, according to owner and developer Sinohydro. Together they have a total capacity of 540 MW and annual electricity output of 2,092 million kWh. Construction on these facilities began in October 2012. The second phase involves building the Nam Ou 1, Nam Ou 3, Nam Ou 4 and Nam Ou 7 projects.

The project is on the Nam Ou River in the provinces of Phongsaly and Luang Prabang. In total it will feature seven dams and powerhouses with a projected capacity of 1,156 MW and annual energy output of 5,017 GWh. Total cost is expected to be US$2.8 billion, and work on the second phase is estimated to be complete in 2020.

After a 29-year concession period, which as best we can determine begins after all the facilities begin commercial operation, the project will be handed over to the government.

At a ceremony for official operation of the first phase facilities, Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthilath said, “The Nam Ou hydropower project will play an important role in regulating seasonal drought in the Nam Ou river basin, ensuring downstream irrigation for plantations and reducing soil erosion.”

Sinohydro is developing the projects as a joint venture with EDL, with Sinohydro having 85% ownership. Powerchina Resources Ltd. is a contractor on the projects.