The theme for this year’s World Environment Day, June 5, is “the Green Economy” and Mr Soulideth Baomanikhoth, Deputy General Manager of THPC, said the expansion project was a good example of investment in environmentally and socially sustainable energy. “All industrial projects involve trade-offs”, he said, “but when you have a company investing in clean, renewable energy with a commitment to social development and environmental protection, then you are truly in line with the drive towards a green economy”.
THPC can currently produce 210 MW of electricity without any polluting by-products, and by the end of this year will increase its generating capacity to 500 MW. The extension project has built another power station and a dam on the Nam Gnouang River. From there, water runs into the Nam Theun and to the existing turbines, plus one new unit, at THPC’s Khounkham Powerhouse. This design allows the company to generate electricity twice from the same water flow and to more than double its capacity for export and local power supply.
Theun-Hinboun uses Lao natural resources very efficiently to create foreign-exchange revenue for the country, explained Mr Soulideth. It also contributes to local development, by supplying power and infrastructure to local people. Resettlement and relocation programmes have been conducted in consultation with local people. Now villages like Ban Keosenkham have roads, schools, health centres and water supply. In addition the company is working on livelihoods and social programmes to help people make the best use of their new opportunities.
This investment in local communities is an important part of the green economy idea. According to Ms Surapha Vilavong, Deputy Social and Environmental Manager for THPC, the company has a long-term commitment to improving the lives of people in the project area. “We are working with villagers to develop their livelihoods, and are also trying to establish sustainable management of the fishery resource in the Nam Ngouang Reservoir, and protection of the surrounding forest in partnership with local authorities”
Ms Surapha said that THPC takes its environmental performance most seriously. “Planting trees for the future helps share such ideas in a very practical way,” she added.