HydropowerThe water resources of the Mekong River and its tributaries are estimated to hold a hydropower potential in excess of 20 times the current power production. Of the 23,000 MW of exploitable potential hydropower in Lao PDR, about 15,000 MW are internal to the country, and the remaining 8,000 MW represent the country’s share in the mainstream Mekong, jointly with one or more riparian countries. Large hydropower capacity (greater than 25 MW) represents more than a 97 percent share in the power generation mix in Lao PDR.To date, about 1,838 MW of hydropower generation capacity has been installed (including the 1,080 MW Nam Theun 2 project), with another 1,372 MW under construction, 3,041 MW in the advanced planning stage with commissioning targeted before 2015, and more than 3,300 with completed feasibility studies. For the seven plants under construction, 1,145 MW will be for export to Thailand and Vietnam and 227 MW for domestic supply. There are also 17 hydropower projects in the pipeline with feasibility studies completed which will add another 4,573 MW of installed capacity by 2020 according to the latest development plan. Of those, three are export-oriented projects at the advanced planning stage, targeting commercial operation before 2015: (i) Nam Ngum 3 (440 MW), (ii) Nam Ngiep 1 (278 MW) and (iii) Nam Theun 1 (523 MW). Once approved and completed, these three projects will account for a total of 2,241 MW of the installed capacity. In addition, some 40 other hydropower projects, with Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with various developers, are at different stages of preliminary consultation and feasibility study.Solar energySolar irradiance on Lao PDR is between 3.6-5.5 kWh/m2, with sunshine 1800-2000 hrs/year. With such solar energy potential, if photovoltaic technology was used (overall efficiency of 10%), it would generate 146 kWh/m2/year, or 1.5x108 kWh/km2/year ( 13 MTOE/km2/year). Photovoltaic solar technology is being used for water pumps, water purification, and communications; however the initial investment cost is high and hence current uptake is low. Current installed capacity of solar power systems is 285 kW. Installation of small solar home systems have been carried by public as well as private sectors, with funding from the World Bank, international organizations or own investment of local private companies. At present, around 20,000 households have been supplied electricity through solar home systems. Larger PV systems (capacity up to 40-100 kWp) have also been piloted within cooperation project between MEM and NEDO (Japan), as a component of a hybrid power system with micro hydropower in remote rural area.BiomassIn Laos, fuelwood (mainly for cooking needs) and electricity are the only energy sources produced locally. Forests are the main source of wood fuel, supplying an estimate of 85% of all fuel-wood. Wood is the main source of energy for the majority of the rural populace, and accounted for 89% of the country’s total energy consumption in 1994. The country is increasingly facing wood energy problems which are recognised by the government.The DOF (Department of Forestry) has a Social Forestry Support Unit which allocates land for village wood lots. Individual farmers are also given land to grow fuel-wood. Furthermore, rural industries are encouraged to grow their own fuel-wood, and receive land entitlements for this purpose. Research on fast-growing species is undertaken at the DOF's Silviculture Centre. Furthermore, DOF is building up a pilot extension network in seven districts (out of 110) in seven provinces (out of 16).As Lao PDR is an agricultural based country, there are a lot of wastes generated every year from agro-forestry production, such as rice straws/husk, sawdust, corn cobs, livestock manures, which can be used as feedstock for energy generation. Besides, communal and organic industrial wastes are among the important biomass energy resources. Annual Energy Potential of Agroforestry wastes is estimated around 500 MTOE.BiogasBiogas produced from livestock manure can be a substitute for traditional sources for cooking and lighting. Although biogas has a long history in the Lao PDR, almost all of the digesters, with the exception of 30 units installed in early 2005, are no longer operational. This is mainly due to incorrect sizing and a lack of understanding of how to maintain the units. It was estimated that utilizing of livestock wastes for biogas production could generate around 2.8x108 m3 of biogas per year, or equivalent to 5x108 kWh electricity (about 216 MTOE).Biofuels Research on energy crops for biofuel production is in its infancy in the Lao PDR; and there are no data to assess the feasibility and sustainability of biofuel production. In addition, the possible environmental impacts will be hard to ascertain. Nevertheless, there is high potential of energy crops in Lao PDR, such as oily crops (jatropha, Vernicia Montana nut, oil palm, soybean, etc), starch culture (cassava, corn,) sugar (sugarcane) and other trees, which can be used as feedstock for biofuels production. Pilot projects on jatropha plantation for biodiesel production have been conducted in recent years. Kolao farm has invested on Jatropha plantation on 2500 ha and pressing factory with capacity 40 ton per day, and biodiesel processing factory - capacity 2000 L/day in Kenthao district, Xayabouly province. Besides, a teak wood company in Luang Prabang has piloted plantation of Vernicia Montana nut on area of 7000 ha.Wind powerThere is lack of data on wind energy potential, particularly at a height above 50 m. According to international data sources, there may be some wind potential in central provinces of Lao PDR, especially up on high mountains along Lao-Vietnam border (Savannakhet and Khammouane provinces) where at a height 50 m and above, wind speeds reach 5.8 m/s 4. The theoretical potential for wind energy in Lao PDR is estimated to be more than 182,000 MW. At present Ministry of Energy and Mines is installing wind data logger in four sites in these province and plans to install in other provinces. A wind power proposal has recently been accepted by an international Scandinavian funder.Geothermal energyThe country’s natural hot springs are known for their important role in tourism; however, to date, no significant geothermal areas have been identified for possible power generation. Known sources are too small to be exploited for this purpose.