Nam Theun 2 project inaugurated

By Chris Sleight09 December 2010

Construction of the turbine house was in its early stages when IC visited the site, although the fou

Construction of the turbine house was in its early stages when IC visited the site, although the four inlet tunnels were well underway.

Nam Theun 2 (NT2), the largest hydroelectric project in Laos has been officially inaugurated. The 1.07 GW scheme will generate US$ 2 billion in revenues for the country over the next 25 years, through the sale of 90% of its electricity to neighbouring Thailand.

"This project is a testament to the fact that when hydropower projects are done right, in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, the benefits are considerable," said Kunio Senga, director general of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB's) Southeast Asia Department.

According to the ADB, before NT2 was developed, more than half the families in the Nakai Plateau villages, where the scheme is located, lived in poverty. Child mortality rates were high, drinking water was scarce and sanitation was described as "almost non-existent."

"Today, the vast majority of residents say they are better off than before," said Mr Senga.

The ADB added that NT2 will release 35 times less greenhouse gasses than a coal-fired power plant of equivalent size.

As part of the construction process, some US$ 60 million was invested in downstream water quality management. The Nam Theun 2 Power Company, which will operate the facility, will also contribute US$ 1 million per year to biodiversity projects across a 4000 km2 area around NT2.

iC reported on the early stages of NT2's construction in June 2006. Click here to read the full report.

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