Deal is signed for largest ASEAN wind farm, near Mekong in south of Laos

The China Post - - BUSINESS - BY IT­THI C. TAN

Thai re­new­able com­pany Im­pact Energy Asia (IEA) plans to build the largest wind farm in ASEAN — and gen­er­ate 600 megawatts on 400,000 rai in south­ern Laos — un­der an agree­ment signed by the Lao gov­ern­ment and the com­pany on Fri­day.

“Called Mon­soon Wind Farm, the US$1.5 bil­lion farm will be lo­cated near the Mekong River across from Ubon Ratchathani,” said Wo­ramol Khamkanist, who heads the firm.

The ac­cord was signed by Laos’ Deputy Min­is­ter for In­vest­ment and Plan­ning Dr. Kham­ni­ang Phon­sena and IEA di­rec­tor Paradai Suebma. Laos’ Deputy Min­is­ter for Energy and Min­ing Vi­laphon Veela­wong and Royal Thai Em­bassy of­fi­cial in Laos Ru­jikorn Saengchan also at­tended the sign­ing.

Wo­ramol said: “We are en­cour­aged by the sup­port from the Lao and Thai gov­ern­ments.”

The wind pro­ject will be turned over to the Lao gov­ern­ment af­ter a 25-year con­ces­sion.

The wind farm cov­ers two dis­tricts: Dak Cheung in Sekong province and Sanxay in At­tapeu province. The gover­nor of At­tapeu Nam Viyaked also wit­nessed the sign­ing.

Mon­soon Wind is due to de­liver its pay­load in 2019. It will be built on land where 4,000 peo­ple live in six scat­tered vil­lages.

“The wind farm does not en­croach on arable land or harm the en­vi­ron­ment,” an IEA engi­neer said. “It will not dis­rupt the lives of peo­ple.”

About 95 per­cent of the power is ex­pected to be sold to ASEAN mar­kets, mainly to Thai­land and buy­ers bor­der­ing the Mekong.

The pro­ject is also crit­i­cal Thai­land’s energy needs.

“In the next 10 years, lo­cal pro­duc­tion of nat­u­ral gas and LNG will be de­pleted and much of our LNG needs will have to be im­ported to re­place lo­cal de­mand,” IEA ex­ec­u­tive Som­boon Lertsuwannaroj said.

The pro­ject will also play a key role in the ASEAN Power Grid Pol­icy to sell power from Laos via Thai and Malaysia grids to Sin­ga­pore, which has pledged to buy Lao power to as­sist one of the poorer mem­bers in the group.

“It is only pru­dent that we rely on our­selves and a sis­ter na­tion such as Laos, with which we share a com­mon lan­guage, cul­ture and his­tor­i­cal ties,” Som­boon said. “Af­ter all, Laos, with its Lan Chang (mil­lion ele­phants) cul­ture is truly a twin of our Lan Na (mil­lion rice­fields) her­itage.”

Mon­soon Wind is the first energy pro­ject in Laos to be granted to a Thai com­pany. Pre­vi­ously, Thai state agen­cies were in­volved in all power projects.

IEA will also clear the site where the wind farm will be built of many ex­plo­sive de­vices left from the In­dochina con­flict in the 1960s and ’70s. Laos has one of the high­est amounts of un­ex­ploded bombs of any coun­try in the world.

The Mon­soon Wind farm hopes to gen­er­ate over 1,500 mil­lion units of power an­nu­ally and avoid an es­ti­mated 750,0000 tonnes of car­bon emis­sions that would be gen­er­ated by a coal plant.

The pro­ject is also ex­pected to spur the build­ing of needed in­fra­struc­ture like roads, bridges, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and power grids in Laos, in­clud­ing im­proved roads to Viet­nam and Thai­land.

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