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PROJECT | Cesar Tordesillas, Vietnam

New dam powers up Laos' Theun-Hinboun hydropower plant

A new dam has allowed the Theun-Hinboun hydropower plant in Borikhamxay province of Laos to generate energy at its full capacity of 220 megawatts.


The Nam Gnuang dam releases stored water to bolster energy generation at the Theun-Hinboun plant.

According to Electricite du Laos Managing Director Mr Sisavath Thiravong, energy generation had dropped by about 15 to 20 percent in previous years after the Nam Theun 2 dam was built further upstream in Khammuan province in 2008. When the Nam Theun 2 released water for electricity generation in 2010, the water flowed into another river, the Xebangfai.

During this time, the Theun-Hinboun plant generated energy using water from tributary streams that flow into the river between the two dams. However, it was still unable to reach its capacity.

The plant normally generates about 1,400 GWh per year from the Nam Theun River and its tributaries.

The plant is now at full capacity again after an expansion project.

The Nam Gnuang dam, which took two years to build, is part of the Theun-Hinboun Power Company’s hydropower expansion project.

Once complete, Theun-Hinboun’s expansion project will have a capacity of 220MW and is expected to start operating commercially in July. The Nam Gnuang dam itself has a capacity of 60MW and is set to become fully operational in November.

The expansion aims to increase the supply of energy both for local distribution and export.

It will also increase generator capacity from 220MW to 500MW.

The total project costs are expected to hit about 6.2 trillion kip or US$720 million.

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