After beginning in 2012, the construction of the US$3.5 billion Xayaboury dam is now about 50 per cent complete, according to a report by Vientiane Times.
When it becomes operational in 2019, about 95 percent of the 1,285-megawatt electricity produced will be sold to Thailand. The project’s shareholders include Thailand’s Ch Karnchang, Natee Synergy, Electricite du Laos, Electricity Generating, Bangkok Expressway and PT Construction.
The dam, the biggest so far in Laos, has drawn heavy criticisms from environmentalists who fear of negative impacts to local livelihood.
This week, the dam welcomed Laos’s Honorary Consul to Switzerland Guido Kappeli, briefing him on the the advanced technology being used in the construction of the dam.
Deputy Managing Director of Xayaboury Power for Operation and Maintenance, Anuparp Wonglakorn, told the overseas delegation that nutrient sediment required by fish could pass freely through the spillways and turbines.
The project’s lead engineer Prat Nantasen said about 97 percent of the total sediment flow would continue to pass downstream as normal.
Project designers also developed a system to monitor sediment accumulated on the riverbed in front of the dam, which would be flushed downstream through sediment-flushing outlets when needed.
Asked about his thoughts on the Lao government’s plan to build other hydropower plants on the Mekong River, Kappeli said it was normal and good for a country to make use of its potential to drive development.
“Every country in the world uses and profits from its capacity. Laos has a big capacity and resource in water and it is good and normal that these capacities are used,” he said.
He added that the revenue generated by dams could be inve sted in initiatives to fight poverty. During the 29-year concession period, the power generated and sold by the dam is expected to earn almost US$4 billion for the Lao government.