Energy ministers of Thailand and Laos say the two nations are working on a new power purchase agreement in which Thailand plans a significant increase in the amount of hydropower it is to buy from Laos.
The ministers told a September 7 World Bank seminar on dams that Thailand plans to buy another 2,000 MW of power from its poorer neighbor. Thailand already plans to buy 5,000 MW of Laotian hydropower by 2015. (HNN 11/7/06)
“We hope to get the National Legislative Assembly to approve the memorandum of understanding before its term expires at the end of this year,” Thai Minister Piyasvasti Amranand said.
Lao Energy and Mines Minister Bosaykham Vongdara told the seminar the cost of generating the additional 2,000 MW would be higher than previous projects because “we will improve several standards for sustainable development.”
Responding to environmentalist criticisms Thailand is developing at the expense of Laos’ environment, Piyasvasti said hydro project operators must comply with Laotian environmental laws and use best practices to mitigate the project effects.
“It would only be fair to try to achieve the goal of raising the incomes of the Thai people and the Lao people to the standard you have been enjoying in the West and I can’t see how Laos can do that without building hydroelectric dams,” Piyasvasti said.
Laos plans to complete about 20 dams with an estimated capacity of 5,400 MW between 2009 and 2015 on top of 10 existing dams with a combined capacity of 3,600 MW. It has the potential for at least 20,000 MW of hydropower, Lao Energy Ministry officials said.
Most recently, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Co. Ltd. of Thailand and SK Engineering &Construction Co. Ltd. of South Korea signed an agreement with the Laotian government in August to develop the 372-MW Xae Pien-Xae Nam Noi hydroelectric project in Laos. (HNN 8/9/07)
Thailand expects average annual power demand growth of 5.78 percent over the next 15 years, or 1,860 MW per year.