Laos expands power grid and eyes biomass in renewable energy push

Biomass

Laos is looking to expand its power grid network and may use renewable energy to produce electricity, according to Xinhua News.

The Laos government plans to install 54 more electricity transmission lines and build another 16 substations by 2020.

Laos Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath has revealed the plan recently, saying the government recognises the need to install more transmission lines and substations to deal with the increase in energy generation.

At present, there are 53,000 kilometers of high voltage electricity transmission lines and 53 substations, Laos state-run Vientiane Times reported. High voltage transmission lines connect with neighbouring countries, including 14 lines that transmit power to Thailand, two to Vietnam, one to China, two to Cambodia, and one more to Myanmar.

Laos provinces in border areas also have 22kV transmission lines that connect with neighbouring countries to facilitate the purchase, sale and exchange of electricity, said Inthirath, adding that Laos is focusing on expanding the electricity network into rural areas to spur development and wipe out poverty among ethnic groups.

At present, almost 92% of households nationwide have permanent access to electricity, while electricity exports have increased four-fold since 2010 and are rising each year, he added.

Biomass power

Laos is also considering renewable energy sources such as solar power, biomass, and wind turbines. As many as 1.15% of all families across the Southeast Asian country are using solar power, Inthirath said.

Along with the construction of more transmission lines and substations, Laos also plans to build more hydropower plants by 2020.

There are currently 42 operational power plants in Laos with installed capacity of 6,391MW. They generate about 33,822.4 GWh annually for local consumption and mainly for export.

The number of power plants will increase from 42 to 50 as the government and private energy developers complete the construction of new power plants that will soon start to generate electricity.

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