Aerial photo taken on June 27, 2020 showing the Nam Ou 6 hydropower plant of the Nam Ou River Cascade hydropower project in northern Laos. (PowerChina Resources / Document via Xinhua)
by Zhang Jianhua, Sang Wenlin
VIENTIANE, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) – “I didn’t expect to go from being a highlander to being a fisherman,” said Songkham Yathika, 55, who lived in the mountains of northern Laos and made a living in gathering and hunting.
In 2017, Songkham and his family moved into a new house in Huay Lo immigrant village built by Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) after the completion of their Nam Ou 1 hydropower plant.
âThe Laotian government and Chinese society store fish in the tank every year, and we catch the fish according to the regulations,â Songkham said, adding that the fish is growing quite large and becoming abundant.
Then the Songkham family ran a fish restaurant next to the Nam Ou 1 reservoir, “the fresh fish pushes even the townspeople, tens of kilometers in Luang Prabang town, to come here to taste. . Drivers and passengers on the road also park to try our fish, including many Chinese customers. “
The Nam Ou River Cascading Hydroelectric Project, developed by PowerChina with a total investment of approximately US $ 2.8 billion, started full power generation on September 28, 2021. The project, with capacity total installed capacity of 1.272 million kilowatts and an average annual production capacity of about 5 billion kilowatt-hours, will be transferred to the Laotian government after 29 years of operation.
“We release and store fish along the Nam Ou River every year,” Wang Peng, a PowerChina staff member in charge of immigration from Nam Ou Reservoir, told Xinhua last Sunday, adding that his company was careful. at the choice of fish, “even if the price is higher, we choose the local fry, but not the foreign species.”
Chinese companies are the main force in investing and building hydropower plants in Laos, and stocking in reservoirs has long been one of their standard practices to protect the ecosystem in Laos.
China International Water and Electric Corp. (CWE) by China Three Gorges Cor. (CTG) has always considered project management and the protection of lucid waters and lush mountains since entering the Lao market in 1996.
The Nam Lik 1-2 hydroelectric project, invested by CWE in the north of the Laotian capital Vientiane, has embraced the green development path of “bringing fish to clean water” and released 50,000 fish tails in the reservoir every year, while also does a good job in monitoring and protecting water quality. The power station thus contributes to aquatic biodiversity and to the ecological balance of the Mekong tributary basin.
âThe release of fish in the reservoir increased the number of fish in the basin, and the monitoring and protection of water quality made the river clearer,â said Phouxay Vongphachanh, a Lao employee of the Nam Lik 1-2 factory, adding that the approach was not only enriching water biodiversity, but also making his hometown more beautiful.
Huang Yande, deputy general manager of PowerChina Resources Limited and general manager of its subsidiary in Laos, told Xinhua on Monday that the design of seven cascading power plants on the Nam Ou River, the longest tributary of the Mekong in Laos, although ‘it increased costs with less electricity production, better protected the local ecology and minimized the flooded area.
The seventh upstream plant has a relatively larger capacity, which can play a regulatory role over the years, and allows the six small downstream plants to produce electricity in the dry season. In this way, the seven hydropower plants make full use of water resources and achieve ecological, social and economic benefits.
During construction, PowerChina engineers adopted dust collection system and adhered to zero sewage discharge, in order to minimize the impact of construction on the environment; established a number of animal habitat protection zones and released over two million fish tails into the river for nine consecutive years; helped local communities protect biodiversity, encouraged afforestation and reforestation, and found ways to reserve trees of rare species.
Huang said Chinese engineers have minimized the impact on the ecological environment and achieved sustainable development, which has been hailed by the public and the Lao government as “brilliant ideas.”
Electricite du Laos Transmission Company Limited (EDL-T), a joint venture between China Southern Power Grid (CSG) and the Laotian state-owned company Electricite du Laos (EDL), will serve as the operator of the country’s national electricity grid for invest, build and operate electricity networks of 230 kv and above in Laos and implement network interconnection projects between Laos and its neighboring countries.
According to Cheng Jun, general manager of EDL-T, when planning the transmission network, the company took various measures to protect the local ecology, such as avoiding areas of biodiversity, areas at risk with potential natural disasters, ecologically vulnerable areas, so as not to affect or modify the living environment of wildlife, among others.
“That the height of power lines and transmission towers, for example, does not affect the passage of wild animals such as wild elephants is something we keep in mind throughout the design phases and construction, âCheng said. Final element