Electricity imports to drop, exports to drive growth

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The amount of electricity imported by Laos is likely to drop this year as the country witnesses a surge in electricity generation.

Last year, Laos spent US$15.4 million on electricity imports, which was less than in 2017 when US$18 million was spent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

This year, Laos plans to spend about US$12.1 million on electricity imports, mostly from China and Vietnam.

The ministry noted that about US$88.5 million was spent on electricity imports in 2015, which plummeted to US$50.6 million in 2016.

However, the value of electricity exported, mainly to Thailand, soared from US$600 million in 2015 to US$1.4 billion last year, making it Laos’ top export earner.

The country’s target is to earn about US$1,328 million from electricity exports this year.

Electricity is the key sector expected to drive the growth of the economy.

In 2014, the government of Singapore expressed interest in buying electricity from Laos via transmission lines in Malaysia and Thailand.

Under this plan, Laos expects to export 14,800MW of electricity annually to neighbouring countries by 2025.

In the future, Laos aims to sell 9,000MW of electricity to Thailand, 5,000MW to Vietnam, 500MW to Myanmar, 200MW to Cambodia, and to distribute 100MW to Malaysia.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Laos has operational power plants with a total installed capacity of 7,207MW and electricity generation of 37,366 GWh per year.

These include 32 medium and large power plants, 21 small power plants with an installed capacity of less than 15MW, one lignite power plant, two renewable power plants, and five solar power plants.

Some 39 power plants are under construction and are expected to be complete in 2020 and 2021 with a total installed capacity of 4,974MW and electricity generation of 24,544 GWh per year.

This means Laos will have 100 power plants with a total installed capacity of 12,181MW and electricity generation of 61,845 GWh per year. About 85 percent of this electricity will be exported.

Alongside power plant development, Laos has completed the construction of 62,000km of low, medium, and high voltage power lines and 68 sub-stations.

At present, 95 percent of households nationwide have permanent access to electricity.

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