Guests attend a ceremony to start the first power generation unit of Nam Ou River Cascade Hydropower Project's second phase, in Luang Prabang, Laos, Dec. 26, 2019. (Photo by Kaikeo Saiyasane/Xinhua)
VIENTIANE, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- A ceremony to start the first power generation unit of Nam Ou River Cascade Hydropower Project's second phase was held on Thursday, in Luang Prabang, some 220 km north of the Lao capital Vientiane.
Lao Minister of Energy and Mines and President of the Laos-China Friendship Association Khammany Inthirath, and Chinese Ambassador Jiang Zaidong pressed a crystal ball button at the ceremony, thus jointly launching the power generation of the second phase's first unit, on the largest tributary of Mekong river in Laos.
The Nam Ou River cascade hydropower project, developed by Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and also the first Chinese company-run project to win the development rights of a whole river basin in the country, is highly valued by Chinese and Lao governments and people.
The operation of the second phase's first unit indicates that the construction of the project has reached a new level, marking the delivery of high-quality clean power for Laos' socio-economic development and injecting new momentum into the development of China-Laos comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
The project is developed in two phases, with a total installed capacity of 1.272 million kilowatts and an average annual generating capacity of about 5.064 billion kilowatt-hours (KWH). When completed, it can guarantee 12 percent of the electricity supply in Laos.
In his speech, Minister Khammany spoke highly of the significant achievements made in the Nam Ou River cascade hydropower project and its strategic significance in the country's energy industry. He pointed out that the project is an important livelihood project in northern Laos, which will help transform the lifestyle and improve the local production conditions, address local issues of power supply and poverty alleviation, and bring more investment.
The minister also said the project is a green, environment-friendly and sustainable development project, which will bring a large amount of high-quality and sustainable power to Laos.
The project, during its construction, has been addressing local issues of power supply, poverty alleviation, infrastructure improvement and other social welfare, which has set an example for other projects, Khammany said, adding that the project is a demonstration of Laos-China electricity and energy cooperation.
Ambassador Jiang stated in his speech that Thursday's success is the implementation of the important consensus reached by the top leaders of the two parties and the two countries, and it is a solid progress made in building the China-Laos community with a shared future and a major achievement to benefit the people.
The Chinese ambassador hoped that PowerChina will further share the building and operating experience with the Lao side, so as to proactively play the project's benchmark role in bilateral cooperation.
Li Yanming, deputy general manager of PowerChina, said the Nam Ou River Cascade Hydropower Project has brought a number of practical achievements, such as the automatic monitoring and reporting system of the Nam Ou basin, provided data support for Laos to build a national water resources and water environment management system, flood prevention and disaster reduction, and centralized control management of hydropower stations.
The project will continue to share advanced concepts, technologies, equipment, operation and management experience with the Lao people, Li added.
The first phase of the Nam Ou River Cascade Hydropower Project, comprising the Nam Ou 2, 5 and 6 plants and having a total installed capacity of 540 megawatts (MW), has started its commercial operation on Jan. 1, 2017. By the end of 2019, the total cumulative power generation has amounted to 4.7 billion KWH, lighting tens of thousands of homes.
The total installed capacity of the second phase of the project, comprising the Nam Ou 1, 3, 4 and 7 plants, is 732 MW with a power generating capacity of 2,874 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually and is expected to be completed by 2020.
Once the whole basin plants are in full operation, a string of "seven dazzling pearls" will make the Belt and Road Initiative more shining in Laos, as described in the project's pamphlet.