Finland has entered into bilateral development cooperation with Laos PDR. Finnish support to Laos Renewable Energy (RE) is the pioneer step to mark the start.
The Lao Vice Minister of Energy and Mine, H.E. Somboune Rasasombath, converses about renewable energy in Laos, the strategy and the sound cooperation between the two nations.
Renewable energy is rather a new term in Laos. When talking of energy, people tend to refer to hydroelectric power conventionally. That is not a surprise; the country has long experience in electricity generation and currently projects itself as ‘Battery of Asia’.
However, most of the typical large scale hydro projects are committed for exporting to the neighbouring countries and the local people are still in shortage of electricity. Scattered population and mountainous terrain make it difficult for those projects to serve domestic market.
‘For that reason, rural electrification is our top priority and I am happy to say that we have been successfully implementing the scheme’, the Vice Minister remarks. Look at the current portfolio, there is a reason to be happy about. Laos managed to reach the target of increasing the electrification of households from 15% in 1998 to 70% in 2010.
In fact the mission was accomplished even before projected time. Renewable energy, whether addressing it or not, has accounted to a great part of that success. It is solar home system and mini/ pico-hydro which have been largely adopted for rural electrification.
Beside power matter, what are the energy outlooks of the country? By and large, Laotians live natural way of life and energy demand is elementary, H.E.Somboun reveals. Biomass, precisely fuel-wood and charcoal for cooking and heating, remains the major share of energy consumption. Recently, biogas for cooking and lighting has been introduced to Lao households.
However, things are changing fast in Laos. The country is enjoying strong economic growth rate over the past recent years. Naturally, such development comes with consequences. Growth in population and increase in economic activities dictate growing demand for energy.
Additionally, need of energy for transportation continues to be on a rise due to rapidly increasing number of personal vehicles. Laos may be rich in mineral resources, but petroleum and natural gas are solely imported. With escalating demand for fossil fuel, extreme fluctuation of oil price in 2008 caused a great concern to the country’s executives.
‘Since then there has been talks on ‘energy security’ and the interest in biofuel, seen as a potential solution, has grown’, observes the Vice Minister.
Such alerts coincide with the global trend to combat climate change. These result in the active movement towards sustainable environment, where renewable energy has been seen as a promising antidote.
Project coordinator Srin Boonyoung from the Embassy of Finland interviewed the vice minister H.E. Somboune Rasasombath in Vientiane.
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