By The Mekong Eye
Hongsa, Sainyabuli, Laos, September 8, 2015
Baht Beyond Borders #8 – Thai investment booming next door
Hongsa Coal Power Plant, Laos
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) just began importing electricity from the newly completed Hongsa coal-fired power plant, just 30km into Laos. Adjacent mines feed the thermal plant with lignite, the dirtiest type of coal. Though Hongsa states, “Clean coal technology will be employed,” Germany’s own battle to rid itself from the damages of lignite is illustrative that such technology remans illusive. Moreover, efforts by NGOs to understand what social and environmental safeguards are employed have been thwarted as they’ve been banned from that project area and meeting with the 2,000 people resettled so far. It’s precisely such controls that has drawn Thai energy investors to Laos, avoiding the increased public opposition to energy projects at home.
The Hongsa Power Company is a consortium comprising the Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Company (Thailand’s largest independent power producer 45 per cent owned by EGAT), Banpu Power (a subsidiary of the Thai coal-mining company Banpu) and Lao Holding State Enterprise (which also holds shares in Nam Theun 2 Power Company). The Thai partners each have a 40 per cent stake in the project and the Lao entity 20 per cent. The consortium has been granted a 25 year concession to operate the mine and power plant.