The Energy Sector in Lao PDR
Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:53
Lao PDR is endowed with significant indigenous energy resources. Energy use within the country is still dominated by the use of fuelwood, which accounts for about 90% of total energy requirements. However this is a non-sustainable resource and the government recognises that significant logging can cause unwanted impact on the environment. Hydropower is the most abundant and cost-effective energy source in Lao PDR, with a theoretical hydroelectric potential of about 26,500MW excluding the mainstream Mekong. Of this, about 18,000MW is technically exploitable, with 12,500MW found in the major Mekong sub-basins and the remainder in minor Mekong or non-Mekong basins. Less than 2% of the country's hydropower potential has been developed over the past 30 year, but under present government policy the rate of development will accelerate to supply electricity to the rapidly growing economies of the region. Agreements for future hydropower exports are in place with Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. In addition to international supply commitments, domestic energy consumption is growing at 8% to 10% annually.
A number of promising sites have been studied and many projects identified. Some are to be developed by the Government of Lao with multilateral support but the greater level of activity, in terms of both the number and size of the projects, is to be found within the private sector.
Other Energy Resources
Potential for use in power generation
Coal & Lignite
Sufficient lignite reserves exist for about 2,000MW installed capacity. Anthracite & bituminous, possible long-term option for around 500MW, depending on results of exploration
Wood-fired cogeneration (heat & power) plants could be economic for self-supply in wood processing facilities but uneconomic for large-scale export plants
Oil & Gas
Possibly an option in the longer term (10-15 years), if sufficient reserves are found
Photovoltaic modules already used for small-scale remote applications. Current costs of large-scale solar thermal or photovoltaic power make plants unfeasible
Limited potential due to low average winds speeds and high unit costs
No significant known reserves and therefore limited potential for power generation
No known reserves of uranium