Laos Pushes Ahead With Large Dam Projects, Despite Uncertainty of Power Purchases

Radio Free Asia

The Lao government is pushing ahead with more hydroelectric dams despite uncertainty about Thailand’s willingness to purchase the electricity they generate, Lao officials and others with knowledge of the situation said.

Laos has 78 dams in operation and has signed memorandums of understanding for 246 other hydroelectric projects in its quest to become the “battery of Asia” that exports electricity to neighboring countries, primarily Thailand.

But Thailand has not yet decided whether to buy additional power generated by new dam projects from Laos and may not sign agreements to purchase electricity from four major planned Mekong River dams — the Luang Prabang, Sanakham, Pak Lay, and Pak Beng dams, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) told RFA in an Aug. 26 email.

“The decision to buy or not to buy power from Laos depends on the need of Thailand, the [industrial] production in Thailand and prices,” EGAT said.

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