Viet Lao Power Joint Stock Company (VIETLAOPOWER): The structures that light up the future

Investment in the construction and development of hydropower works has always been a matter of special concern to the Party and the State, especially in the context of Vietnam's efforts to meet the demand for electricity for socio-economic development. In order to actualize the above goal, in 2003, Viet Lao Power Joint Stock Company (VIETLAOPOWER) was established on the basis of the Power Cooperation Agreement - the key area in economic and political cooperation between the two Governments of Vietnam and Laos. In the past time, by knowledge, desire and enduring efforts of those who "go finding the source of light", overcome many difficulties and challenges, VIETLAOPOWER not only brings economic values but also contributes positively to the "change of flesh" of the neighbouring country, becoming a sustainable symbol, lighting up friendship between Vietnam and Laos.

Origin of cooperation - potential and imprint

Under the direction of the Prime Minister of Vietnam, VIETLAOPOWER was established in 2003 to implement the Energy Cooperation Agreement between Vietnam and Laos with the main task of investing and constructing hydropower works in South Laos to import electricity to Vietnam. To date, VIETLAOPOWER is the only investor not only of Vietnam but also of Laos to complete the projects and sell electricity to Vietnam, contributing to ensuring the country's energy security. Cumulative electricity sales to 30/4/2022 reached 9.16 billion kWh, electricity sales (also Laos' export to Vietnam) accumulated to 30/4/2022 reached 482.95 million USD.

VIETLAOPOWER has completed the construction and put into operation of 3 hydropower plants with a total capacity of 572MW, total annual electricity output of 2.2 billion KWh, including: Xekaman 1 Hydropower Plant (290MW), Xekaman Xanxay Hydropower Plant (32MW), Xekaman 3 Hydropower Plant (250MW),

3 electricity transmission line structures, including the part on the Lao territory: 230kV line from Xekaman 1 HPP to Pleiku 2, 220kV line from Dakchung to Thanh My, 115kV line from Xekaman Xanxay HPP back to Xekaman 1 HPP.

Sharing about the first days in "Million-Elephants" country, Mr. Nguyen Duc Cu - Chairman of VIETLAOPOWER recalled:"In response to the trust of the Party, Government, and people of the two countries, Vietnamese personnel, engineers, and construction workers on the construction site have devoted their abilities and enthusiasm to overcome all difficulties and successfully finalize their tasks. The projects are all located deep in the dangerous mountainous areas of Laos, hence, in order to complete the above structures, the construction units on the site have built hundreds of kilometers of transportation systems on the site; excavated and filled millions of m3 of rock and soil; poured hundreds of thousands of m3 of concrete of all kinds; installed tens of thousands of tons of machinery and equipment from simple to complex, oversized, overweight,... Therefore, for me, each structure is a symbol, contributing to the long-standing friendship, connecting the two nations, which is of great significance and plays a very important role in the relationship between Vietnam and Laos”.

First of all, in terms of the common interests of the two countries, these projects are and will be partially implementing regional grid connection, serving the demand for electricity purchase and sale between Laos and Vietnam; implementing investment projects to contribute to consolidating security and defense stability on the Vietnam - Laos border, as well as contributing to export and import turnover between the two countries, which is expected to reach about 120.99 million USD by 2022, and to reach about 140 million USD/year from 2023.

For Vietnam particularly, the projects annually provide Vietnam's electricity system with an average of 2.2 billion kWh from clean, renewable energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help regulate the frequency of Vietnam's electricity system and contribute to ensuring Vietnam's energy security. In addition, Xekaman 1's Reservoir also participates in providing additional fresh water for the Mekong Delta in the dry season.

For the neighbouring country, the projects not only bring economic benefits but also great humanistic values for the Government and people of Laos. From 2013 to April 30, 2022, VIETLAOPOWER has submitted to the budget of the Government of Laos 46.9 million USD; the budget submission plan for the Government of Laos in 2022 is $16.34 million USD.

Regarding migration and resettlement, the projects bring practical benefits to local people at the project construction site (Souksavang - Dakbou, Houydoum -...) with newly invested infrastructure, improved conditions, quality of life...

Besides, the reservoir of Xekaman 1 Hydropower Project also has the ability to cut floods for the downstream. In 2019, the southern provinces of Laos were flooded, but the reservoir of Xekaman 1 hydropower completely cut off the flooding of the Xekaman River, preventing downstream areas, especially Attapeu town, from flooding, providing water sources for downstream areas during the operation in the dry season.

Especially, after 25 years of operation, all the above hydropower plants will be handed over to the Government of Laos by the investor, which will also be the foundation for future generations to continue to inherit and develop.

Xekaman 1 hydropower structures in Xanxay district, Attapeu province has an installed capacity of 322MW, an average annual electricity of 1.1 billion kWh

Beyond the meaning of economic employment

It is not solely about economic employment, VIETLAOPOWER projects also promote socio-economic development in the project area. In addition to ensuring optimal investment efficiency, the issue of environmental impact, social security and stabilizing the lives of people in the project area has always been prioritised by VIETLAOPOWER.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Cu shared that: "How do people who relocate and resettle in new areas have land for cultivation, water sources for production and living? And after the relocation, how to limit the great changes in farming practices, livelihood sources and lifestyle of the people are always problems that make VIETLAOPOWER leadership extremely frustrated. To solve this problem, we built 2 resettlement areas in Xekaman 1 Hydropower Project in Xanxay District, Attapeu Province. In which:

Souksavang - Dakbou Resettlement Area with a total area of 1,273ha, 158 households, more than 800 people, was completed and handed over at the end of 2015, with a total investment cost of $3.307 million. Currently, this resettlement area is taken as a sample for implementation by the Department of Energy Business - Ministry of Energy and Mines of Laos to request other hydropower investors in Laos.

Houydoum Resettlement Area with a total area of 1,155ha, which was completed the entire housing for people on March 15, 2020. The total investment is 4.427 million USD, with a total of 98 households with 559 people- including 20 households who are not in range of resettlement by the project but have aspirations and have been transferred in”.

All are synchronized: housing land, agricultural production land, forestry land, aquaculture land; public works (schools, health stations, cultural houses, markets, public toilets), fish ponds, cemeteries, sedimentation tanks and storage tanks, agricultural extension houses, power lines, roads, drainage systems, gathering grounds for disposal of waste outside the edge of the forest, away from residential areas.

In addition, VIETLAOPOWER also supported the construction of a number of additional civil works such as the Permanent Hard Bridge over the Xekaman River with the load of H30-XB80, Sanxay Power Road with 7km long and the 8km free-flowing water system with the flow of 2m3/s.

Furthermore, VIETLAOPOWER has consistently supported local authorities in times of difficulties such as: Supporting local authorities in Sanxay district, Attapeu province to overcome the consequences after the breakup of Xepien Xenamnoy hydropower dam in 2018; supporting the Covid-19 prevention Fund of the Government of Laos and supporting ventilators for provincial hospitals of Attapeu and Sekong...

In response to that sentiment, the local authorities and the people of the Lao tribes also consented, shared and facilitated for the Vietnamese hydropower implementers to complete the task.

Houydoum Resettlement Area - Xekaman 1 Hydropower Project

Sustainability for the future

Regarding the expectations of Chairman Nguyen Duc Cu for the future of VIETLAOPOWER, he said: "The 60th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam - Laos’s diplomatic relations and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Vietnam - Laos Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation have demonstrated the faithful relationship between the two countries - an unique model in all over the world. Over time, that relationship is growing stronger and deeper in all fields. The economic sector, especially the electric energy cooperation programs between the two countries, is soaring to new heights, more and more commensurate with the potential and expectations”.

Following the success of Xekaman 3, Xekaman 1,... at present, VIETLAOPOWER is implementing digital transformation, AI technology application, automation in operating hydropower plants. In 2022, the Company will build a professional operation and maintenance training center for the Company's projects and other power projects. In the coming time, VIETLAOPOWER intends to develop a solar power and hydropower project in Laos with an expected capacity of 1,500MW to 2,000MW.

Clearly, in the context of the Government of Vietnam's efforts to achieve a net emission reduction of 0 by 2050 as committed at COP 26, hydropower projects will play an important role in peak generation, frequency adjustment and are instrumentation to help stabilize the national power system. Laos not only has great potential for hydropower, but hydropower projects in Laos that supply electricity to Vietnam are also dispatched by EVN to each unit, so they have great efficiency in meeting Vietnam's electricity demand. Therefore, it is encouraging to attract investors (especially Vietnamese investors) to invest in hydropower projects in Laos such as VIETLAOPOWER by the fair electricity price mechanism. Certainly the attention and direction of the Government, ministries, sectors and National Assembly of the two countries in approving the BOT adjustment Agreement, accelerating the negotiation process of adjusting electricity prices with Xekaman 3 plant, and approving the policy to allow Xekaman 1 to sell 100% of the project's electricity output to Vietnam during this time will be a strong source of motivation for VIETLAOPOWER to continue its mission to contribute to the construction and development of the two countries.

With the persistent efforts of those who "go finding the source of light", Viet Lao Power Joint Stock Company is and will become one of the new symbol, demonstrating the long-standing traditional relationship, comprehensive cooperation and a special spirit of friendship between the two countries Vietnam - Laos. Hydropower plants that imbued with sweat and efforts of the Company are invaluable structures for future generations of the two countries to inherit, continue and for the two nations to thrive stronger and stronger.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum