Laos dams gain World Bank support

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Son-La-hydroelectricThe Laos government can depend on the World Bank to back the country’s ambitious hydropower development plans now that that the multilateral institution has flip-flopped its position on the construction of dams.

Previously abandoned decades ago, extending assistance to develop large-scale hydropower dams around the world has been reconsidered by the World Bank, which has now come to recognise their significant economic impact and ability to tame carbon emissions.

“Large hydro is a very big part of the solution for Africa and South Asia and Southeast Asia… I fundamentally believe we have to be involved,” said Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development, an influential member among bank’s top staff.

The earlier move out of hydro “was the wrong message… That was then. This is now. We are back.”

The World Bank has already begun issuing large technical assistance grants for hydropower projects it supports, such as in Zambia, Congo and Nepal.

In Laos, the government’s masterplan to build up to 70 hydroelectric dams along the Mekong River and its tributaries over the next decade could now be coupled with the World Bank as a potential partner.

This pipeline of projects was increased from 55, but, in actuality, Laos has the potential to build about 100 dams with a combined generating power of approximately 26,000 megawatts.

In the 1990s, the World Bank shunned large hydropower projects, which can disrupt delicate ecosystems and displace thousands of indigenous people through flooding.

But the World Bank is opening the taps for dams, transmission lines and related infrastructure as its president, Jim Yong Kim, tries to resolve a quandary at the bank’s core: how to eliminate poverty while adding as little as possible to carbon emissions.

“What’s the one issue that’s holding back development in the poorest countries? It’s energy. There’s just no question,” Kim said.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank played an important role in helping Laos to develop the Nam Theun 2 dam, a facilty with a 1,070-megawatt installed capacity in Khammuan province, the largest existing hydropower plant in Laos. The dam became operational in 2010.

Laos currently operates 14 dams with a combined installed capacity of about 3,200 megawatts.

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Laos government can depend on the World Bank to back the country’s ambitious hydropower development plans now that that the multilateral institution has flip-flopped its position on the construction of dams.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Son-La-hydroelectricThe Laos government can depend on the World Bank to back the country’s ambitious hydropower development plans now that that the multilateral institution has flip-flopped its position on the construction of dams.

Previously abandoned decades ago, extending assistance to develop large-scale hydropower dams around the world has been reconsidered by the World Bank, which has now come to recognise their significant economic impact and ability to tame carbon emissions.

“Large hydro is a very big part of the solution for Africa and South Asia and Southeast Asia… I fundamentally believe we have to be involved,” said Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development, an influential member among bank’s top staff.

The earlier move out of hydro “was the wrong message… That was then. This is now. We are back.”

The World Bank has already begun issuing large technical assistance grants for hydropower projects it supports, such as in Zambia, Congo and Nepal.

In Laos, the government’s masterplan to build up to 70 hydroelectric dams along the Mekong River and its tributaries over the next decade could now be coupled with the World Bank as a potential partner.

This pipeline of projects was increased from 55, but, in actuality, Laos has the potential to build about 100 dams with a combined generating power of approximately 26,000 megawatts.

In the 1990s, the World Bank shunned large hydropower projects, which can disrupt delicate ecosystems and displace thousands of indigenous people through flooding.

But the World Bank is opening the taps for dams, transmission lines and related infrastructure as its president, Jim Yong Kim, tries to resolve a quandary at the bank’s core: how to eliminate poverty while adding as little as possible to carbon emissions.

“What’s the one issue that’s holding back development in the poorest countries? It’s energy. There’s just no question,” Kim said.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank played an important role in helping Laos to develop the Nam Theun 2 dam, a facilty with a 1,070-megawatt installed capacity in Khammuan province, the largest existing hydropower plant in Laos. The dam became operational in 2010.

Laos currently operates 14 dams with a combined installed capacity of about 3,200 megawatts.

 

 

 

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