The floating solar project on Nam Ngum has now come into fruition according to the Laotian Times newsletter on February 20, 2020. The Laos government has signed with Hangzhou Safefound Technology, a Chinese solar panel manufacturer, to build the world’s largest 1200 MW floating solar system on Nam Ngum Lake. The Nam Ngum project will be thirty times larger than the Anhui project, which is the world's current largest project of its kind. Such a fast and powerful transition is good news for the Mekong basin because it signifies a historic turning point: Laos is switching from hydroelectric to photovoltaic power to avoid the unmitigable negative impact of hydropower.
Project location: Nam Ngum Lake
The floating solar power project on Nam Ngum Lake was first proposed to the public by Mr. Long P. Pham, an American professional engineer: On November 1, 2019, Mr. Pham presented the proposal in a paper published by PV Magazine, an international news publication, and on the Viet Ecology Foundation website, with full technical, economic and social analyses. The chart published in the Laotian Times announcing the project is actually the chart Mr. Pham created in his PV Magazine paper for Nam Ngum Lake. Mr. Pham hopes to persuade the Laos government to also replace three pending major Mekong hydropower projects in Laos with solar projects.
Mr. Pham proposed a floating solar power project for the Tonle Sap Lake, and veteran diplomat David Brown has commented that it is an environmental activist's dream. If Cambodia and Laos implement the solar project on Tonle Sap Lake as Mr. Pham has proposed, the Mekong Delta will be saved from the harmful impacts of hydroelectric projects, the livelihoods of thirty million Cambodian and Vietnamese residents will be preserved, and the conflict of interest among Mekong countries will be resolved.
Green energy from the sun and wind has given mankind a better choice for energy that is cheap, clean and truly renewable. Countries can reduce their dependence on finite resource like fossil fuels, stop the uncontrollable waste and pollution, and avoid the disruption of river environmental flow caused by hydropower projects. Green energy means food security and livelihoods for the inhabitants, which will be more sustainable, as far less carbon is emitted so that the threat of rising sea levels and the danger of global warming can surely be averted.
Note: This news release is edited on February 27 to clarify the study Mr. Pham published is the first public proposal of its kind. VEF learns that Laos government has done a study but they have not released the report.