The Very Best of Vientiane Times

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Olivier, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Olivier

    Olivier Admin Staff Member

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    *Dam a natural blessing in Laos*

    Vientiane Times, 20 August 2012
    Laos is one of least developed nations in the world and the country is
    trying its best to free itself from poverty, hoping to achieve the
    mission by 2020.
    Despite achieving strong economic growth of at least 7.5 percent over
    the past five years thanks to the booming mining sector, questions
    still remain as to what the country will do after the mineral
    resources are exhausted.
    Can Laos produce rice for export? The answer is that it will not be
    able to compete with Thailand and Vietnam. Can Laos produce cars,
    computers and TV for export? The answer is that it is impossible in
    the near future since the country lacks a sufficiently skilled labour
    force to meet industrial demands.
    So what is the best option for Laos to build a sustainable economic
    base? Hydropower power plants are perhaps a central plank, which can
    help Laos reduce poverty and build the strong and sustainable economic
    base, thanks to plenty of rivers, forests, tropical rainfall and high
    mountain terrain suitable for dam development.
    According to a study by the Ministry of Energy, the country has
    potential to build more than 70 hydropower plants with a combined
    installed electricity power generation capacity of about 28,000 MW.
    Today, Laos has built only 14 hydropower plants with an installed
    capacity of 2,500 MW.
    Five power plants with a combined power generation capacity of 2,500
    MW are now under construction and four are expected to be completed
    sometime this year. 20 power plants are currently in the planning
    stage and feasibility studies are currently underway on another 20.
    The Lao government sees hydropower as central to its development
    potential and plans to become the battery of Asean, supplying clean
    and renewable energy and promoting sustainable development in the
    region. Today, the Asean and world communities are now campaigning to
    lower greenhouse gas emissions and hydropower is one of the
    industries, which can help the world to fulfil their dreams.
    The construction of hydropower plants is not a new thing around the
    world. The fact, there are several thousand hydropower plants built
    around the world. In some countries, they build a number of hydropower
    plants on the same river. There are more than 10 dams on the Rhone
    River in Europe, for example.
    In Thailand, there are more than 15 dams currently. China has built
    many dams, including the gigantic Three Gorges dam. Vietnam has at
    least two dams and another one now under construction. Currently,
    Cambodia has no dams but it plans to build at least seven dams in the
    country. There are several thousand dams in America alone.
    With many dams in existence already, it presents a good opportunity
    for Laos to learn from other countries on how to build the best dams
    possible. Today, there are modern technologies which can be employed
    to produce better dams which have fewer impacts on people and the
    Laos has completed the construction of the Nam Theun 2, which World
    Bank considers as one of the best models for other developers to
    follow. Besides employing modern dam technologies to reduce negative
    impacts on the environment, the Nam Theun 2 projects also sets an
    example on how to generate income for poverty reduction efforts in
    local communities.
    The Lao government made a strong commitment to use revenue from Nam
    Theun 2 for education and health care improvements. The 2011/2012
    fiscal year is the first year which the government has secured 17
    percent of its investment budget for education and 9 percent for
    health, thanks to increasing revenue from the hydropower sector.
    The Lao government plans to build its first Mekong dam in Xayaboury,
    which will be a run-of-the-river dam. The fact is that this is not the
    first dam on the Mekong as China has already built many dams on the
    upper stretches of the river.
    To address the concerns of neighbouring nations, Laos has redesigned
    the dam and plans to build the most modern and transparent dam ever
    built. The redesigned dam will be able to ensure the release of all
    sediments downstream and allow 85 percent of fish species to pass the
    dam. It will also build channels for boat navigation and establish
    feed breeding centres up and downstream of the dam.
    The redesign of the project will cost the project developers of more
    than US $100 million in additional funding, with the aim of addressing
    the concerns of the downstream Mekong nations.
    The Lao government hopes that Xayaboury dam will be the best dam on
    the Mekong River. The construction of the dam will help it to generate
    revenue so as it can reduce poverty in the country and become an
    industrial nation over the next 10 years.

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