The Government of Laos has set up a committee of local and foreign experts to undertake dam safety inspections as part of plans to boost electricity sales to foreign trading partners.
The energy market is important for Laos as it exports electricity to neighboring countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore. The country has increased its electricity exports by 145 percent over the past five years amid a growing number of hydropower plants.
Laos exports more than 5,620 MW of electricity to Thailand, but expects to increase its electricity exports to around 20,000 MW by 2030.
To achieve this goal, the Government of Laos is now working to improve the safety of dams.
According to a report in Xinhua News last year, Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath said, “We are inspecting more than 510 dam projects. Some of them have been banned from developing their projects further after failing to meet the requisite standards.”
The Lao government is taking into account dam safety measures after the collapse of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower reservoir’s Saddle Dam D in Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district in July 2018.
Since then, the government has told local media that it will regularly examine the standards of all hydropower projects in Laos to ensure the safety of people living downstream.
A paper submitted at the Energy and Mines Sector Annual Meeting earlier this year suggested that the ministry plans to conduct safety inspections of both mega and small-scale hydropower projects across the country.
Laos has 354 small-scale hydropower projects, including plants that are operational, under construction, and for which memorandums of understanding are being prepared, according to Xinhua News.
According to the Energy Management Department, the inspection team is expected to
evaluate 39 operational projects, 24 plants under construction and 291 projects for which
feasibility studies are underway.