The Theun-Hinboun hydropower plant in Borikhamxay province can now generate energy at its full capacity of 220 megawatts (MW) after construction of a new dam that provides additional water to the plant.
|The Nam Gnuang dam releases stored water to bolster energy generation at the Theun-Hinboun plant. |
“Energy generation had dropped by about 15 to 20 percent in previous years,” Electricite du Laos (EDL) Managing Director Mr Sisavath Thiravong said recently.
“The Theun-Hinboun plant's energy generation dropped after the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) dam was built further upstream in Khammuan province in 2008. When the NT2 released water for electricity generation in 2010, the water flowed into another river, the Xebangfai.”
The amount of power generated from the plant dropped because no water flowed into the existing reservoir from the Nam Theun River.
During this time, the Theun-Hinboun plant generated energy using water from tributary streams that flow into the river between the two dams. However, it was still unable to reach its capacity.
Assistant Manager of the Theun-Hinboun hydropower expansion project, Mr Sisouvanh Souvannaphasy, said the plant normally generates about 1,400 GWh per year from the Nam Theun River and its tributaries.
The plant is now at full capacity again after an expansion project. The Nam Gnuang dam, some 30km away, now provides an additional supply of water to the plant, ensuring continued power generation during the dry season.
The Nam Gnuang dam, which took two years to build, is part of the Theun-Hinboun Power Company's hydropower expansion project.
It stores water that can be released to the Theun-Hinboun power plant as back-up when needed.
Once complete, Theun-Hinboun's expansion project will have a capacity of 220MW and is expected to start operating commercially in July. The Nam Gnuang dam itself has a capacity of 60MW and is set to become fully operational in November.
The expansion aims to increase the supply of energy both for local distribution and export. It will also increase generator capacity from 220MW to 500MW.
The total project costs are expected to hit about 6.2 trillion kip (US$720 million). Sixty percent of the company is owned by government shareholders through EDL, while Nordic Hydro (Statkraft) and GMS Lao each hold a 20 percent stake.