Laos Prioritizes Sustainable Energy Solutions
In July, the Ministry of Energy and Mines hosted the country’s second Lao Electric Vehicle (EV) Forum, with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Lao Automotive Industry Association. The event, which featured industry leaders and government officials, highlights Laos’ growing commitment to sustainable technologies and solutions. Officials expressed the desire to collaborate with partners in ASEAN to advance policies and regulations that would promote the uptake of EVs in the region.
In another indication of growing international cooperation in Laos’ sustainability sector, the governments of Laos and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in late July to establish the Biodiverse Landscapes Fund. The fund, which will invest up to US$19 million over the next six years in the lower Mekong region, aims to alleviate poverty for communities dependent on environmentally critical landscapes. Measures to create sustainable economic opportunities for these groups will include local landscape protection, biodiversity preservation, and ecosystem quality enhancement.
Days after the MOU was signed, the Swiss government pledged over US$5.2 million to provide technical and institutional assistance for dam safety procedures in Laos. With hydropower representing a key projected source of growth in Laos, both the Swiss and Lao governments acknowledged the importance of infrastructure sustainability and safe power generation, particularly for communities living downstream of the country’s dams. Separately, the Lao government is striving to ensure compliance with regulations on feasibility studies in the mining sector. Following recent findings from the Ministry of Energy and Mines that revealed a lack of regulatory rigor on the part of mining companies, the government has issued warning to non-compliant firms, with an aim to foster a safe and regulated mining industry.
In a positive development for Laos’ international energy cooperation, the Lao government and Vietnamese firm AMI Renewables Quang Binh Investment Corporation signed an agreement in July to develop a wind power plant in Laos, for which total investment capital will exceed US$2 billion. The power plant, which is currently the largest Lao energy project in which Vietnam has invested, is set to be operational by the second quarter next year.