Laos, the battery of Southeast Asia, has enormous hydropower potential. Despite being a landlocked country, its rivers have proven beneficial to generate hydroelectricity – so much so that the country exports it to neighboring countries. EDL-Gen, the subsidiary of Électricité du Laos, has been at the forefront of leveraging the hydropower potential of Laos. From its inception in 2010, the company has empowered the country to lead the generation of sustainable energy in the form of hydroelectricity. EDL-Gen has played a significant role in making Laos the sole net electricity exporter among the countries around the Mekong River.
The Progress of EDL-Gen
When the new entity EDL-Gen came into being in 2010, the parent company- Électricité du Laos, transferred its power generation assets to the newly formed entity. At that time, the total power generation capacity of those assets was around 387 Megawatts. Today, EDL-Gen has a capacity of 1683 MW. In just a decade, the electricity generation capacity of EDL-Gen has covered 15.4% of the total electricity generation capacity in Laos. If one further breaks down the capacity of EDL-Gen, one will see an impressive growth strategy employed by the company. Among the 1683 MW, 699 MW comes from the wholly owned hydropower plants the company received from its parent company. EDL-Gen also invests in the shares of Independent Power Producers, and the rest of the capacity comes from these IPPs. The IPPs sell electricity to EDL and export to neighboring countries.
EDL-Gen has constantly been expanding its capacity helping Lao PDR make the most of its hydropower resources. In 2022, it built two hydropower units in Saranvanh and Champasak, which are expected to operate 18 MW of electricity. There are seven under-construction projects in which the company will have a 100% stake and shareholding in 9 IPPs. Therefore, the electricity generation capacity of EDL-Gen will increase to 2452 MW by 2027.
How Is EDL-Gen Ethically Expanding Its Capacity Without Harming the People?
Despite Laos being a great country with enormous hydropower potential, there might be some obstacles in the path of releasing this potential. Building hydropower infrastructure involves deploying dams on the rivers. And this activity may disrupt the geographic structure of some areas. People living in and around these places must be given appropriate compensation and alternative places to live.
EDL-Gen, through its CSR activities, ensures that the people of Lao PDR are not harmed in any way during the expansion of its hydropower infrastructure. It consults with experts and stakeholders and spends millions of LAK to help displaced people resume their livelihood. In fact, the people who live near the rivers where the dams are scheduled to be deployed don’t have too many amenities. Together with the government, EDL-Gen helps these people settle in places where they get easy access to hospitals, schools, and clean drinking water.
Back in 2015, EDL-Gen planted more than 3,000 trees in an area of 3 hectares and also released fingerlings to Nam Mang 3 reservoir. The company built an agricultural research center for the resettlement village of Nam Khan 2 and Houay LamPhan Gnai. Recently in 2021, the company organized a skill development program for the people of Ban Phao Xang – another resettlement village. The people were taught how to make broomsticks from broom grass. EDL-Gen contributed 333,544,000 LAK for renovating the school, groundwater, and concrete bridge for the villages in the area of Xeset 1-2 HPP and also built a new school valued at 1 billion LAK for a village located in the area of Nam Luek HPP,
Clean Energy- For the Country, For the World
Since its inception in 2010, EDL-Gen has been helping Laos to enjoy the benefits of clean energy by leveraging hydropower. With its 13 wholly owned HPP (as of 2021), the company has been at the forefront of providing clean energy across the country. However, as it happens, Laos has often been left with excess power. Therefore, power excess has been exported to other South Asian countries. Laos is already on a path to becoming the energy leader among ASEAN countries. For example, the majority of Lao electricity excess was exported to Thailand, and 42% of EDL-Gen’s total installed capacity is behind that export.
The strategic foresight of EDL-Gen is something that needs to be applauded. In order to be a leader in the clean energy sector, the public company does not just rely on hydropower. Back in 2015, EDL-Gen established a second entity – EDL-Gen Solar Power Company Limited, in partnership with Patthana Energy Absolute Sole Co., LTD. The vision of this newly formed company is to provide ASEAN countries with enough renewable energy and to ensure sustainable socio-economic development in Lao PDR.
Its business expansion allows EDL-Gen to produce more jobs for the people of Laos. The company is extremely serious about the skill development of the people of the region and generously allocates a budget for this purpose. Recently EDL-Gen organized a program that taught its employees how to communicate efficiently and present information in an organized way.
Lastly, EDL-Gen is serious about sustainability, not just in terms of electricity generation. It ensures the sustainable participation of female workers in the workplace. Among its 779 permanent staff, 126 are female. The number has been increasing on a steady basis.
With the global focus on reducing the usage of fossil fuels, the importance and value of renewable energy are going to increase manifold. EDL-Gen is going to play a significant role in the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy in Southeast Asian countries.