Electricity is considered a huge revenue earner for Laos, especially through sales to neighboring countries and ASEAN states such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.
With its determined and ambitious plans, Laos expects to increase electricity exports to about 20,000MW between 2020 and 2030. The authorities are now working on the improvement of dam safety.
A report submitted at the annual meeting of the energy and mines sector in February, which was chaired by Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath, indicated the ministry plans to conduct safety inspections at both mega and small-scale hydropower projects nationwide.
The inspections will be carried out in collaboration with central and local authorities as well as foreign experts.
Laos has 354 small-scale hydropower projects, including plants that are operational, under construction, and for which memorandums of understanding are being prepared, said the report.
After receiving safety reports from dam developers, an inspection team, comprising Lao ministry officials and foreign experts, visited a number of hydropower plants and successfully monitored their operations and structure. The team then passed on responsibility for continued monitoring of the plants to local authorities.
The inspection team is expected to examine 39 operational projects, 24 plants under construction and 291 projects for which feasibility studies are underway, according to the Energy Management Department under Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines.
The department plans to inspect 55 mega hydropower projects, including 29 operational plants, 22 plants under construction, and four hydro plants for which project designs are being completed.
As of February 20, 2019, the inspection committee had received reports from 13 hydropower projects. The ministry will continue with the inspections before the onset of the rainy season and is considering asking the government to set up a national dam safety management committee.
The ministry will also study the possibility of forming a dam safety management department. Additionally, the ministry will continue to take the necessary steps to form a Lao Committee on Dams before applying for membership of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).