Thai, Korean firms agree to develop 372-MW Xae Pien-Xae Nam Noi

A Thailand utility and a Korea-based builder signed an agreement with the Laotian government August 6 to develop the 372-MW Xae Pien-Xae Nam Noi hydroelectric project in the Xe Kong River Valley of Laos.

Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Co. Ltd. of Thailand, SK Engineering &Construction Co. Ltd., and the Laos government signed a joint development agreement providing for feasibility studies, construction preparation, an environmental impact assessment, and social impact study.

Xae Pien-Xae Nam Noi (also spelled Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noi and Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy) is to require an investment of US$668 million. It is expected to generate 1,927 million kWh per year.

Ratchaburi Managing Director Narong Sitasuwan said preliminary studies indicate the project has high potential. He said it would add 93 MW to Ratchaburi's portfolio in line with the utility's 25 percent equity stake. Ratchaburi's share of the power is to be transmitted to the lower northeastern area of Thailand to improve energy security in the region.

Colenco Power Engineering AG of Switzerland said in March it was conducting a feasibility study of the project for South Korea's Dong Ah Construction. (HNN 3/28/07) Its work, to investigate feasibility and to elaborate, design, and optimize alternatives, is to be complete by the end of 2007.

The project is located on the Bolaven Plateau of southern Laos. It is to store water from three catchments in a large regulation basin. From there the water is to be conveyed by a 13.5-kilometer headrace tunnel to a pressure conduit, dropping about 700 meters to the powerhouse at the bottom of the Xe Kong Valley.

Xae Pien-Xae Nam Noi was to be developed in the second half of the 1990s, but was halted by the Asian financial crisis at that time. In 2005, Dong Ah decided to resume the project.

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