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Lao PDR plans a new 1.4 GW hydro project on the Mekong River

2 Jul 2020

Lao PDR is planning a new 1,400 MW hydropower project on the Mekong river. The Luang Prabang project, which would be Laos’s third and largest dam on the river, is developed by a consortium between the government of Lao PDR, PetroVietnam (PVN) Power and Thai construction company Ch Karnchang PCL. The project was expected to enter construction in 2020 but is raising concerns from neighbouring  Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam over downstream damages.

Laos intends to export 20 GW of electricity to its neighbours by 2030. The country already built two hydropower plants on the Mekong River, the 1,285 MW Xayaburi Dam and the 260 MW Don Sahong Dam, and several others are planned. So far, the Xayaburi, Don Sahong, Pak Beng, Pak Lay and Luang Prabang projects on the Mekong Mainstream have been submitted for the Notification process under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). In addition, at least 49 projects on the Mekong tributaries have been submitted, including 30 projects in Laos, 14 in Vietnam, 3 in Cambodia and 2 in Thailand.

In May 2020, Lao PDR decided to build a new 684 MW hydropower plant on the Mekong River. The Sanakham dam project would build by an affiliate of Chinese state-owned power producer Datang International Power, Datang Sanakham Hydropower, for an estimated cost of US$2.1bn. Laos has submitted plans to the Mekong River Commission (MRC), which will give an advisory opinion. MRC members including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam can assess the project and review any cross-border impacts. The consultation process will take 6 months. Construction could start as early as in 2020, and the project could be commissioned in 2028.

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