The 1,200 megawatt Lai Chau plant is located in northern mountainous Lai Chau province’s Muong Te district and in the highest step of the Da River’s escalading hydropower system, above the 2,400MW Son La plant in the middle and the 1,920MW Hoa Binh plant downstream.
According to EVN, the new plant will supply some 4.7 billion kWh of electricity a year to the national grid, a significant amount for the country where demand is growing fast, at 13-15 per cent annually.
The Lai Chau project, which has a total investment capital of VND32.5 trillion ($1.675 billion), got the government’s approval this year after getting the nod from the National Assembly late last year.
The first Lai Chau plant’s generation unit is scheduled to be commissioned in 2016 while the whole project will fully operate a year later.
Beside preparations for the Lai Chau project, EVN will also put the first turbine of the Son La plant, the biggest hydropower project in the country, into operation in the next several days.
The plant’s reservoir had been filled with about 190 metres of water till last week, 15m higher than the dead level and sufficient to run the first turbine, which will be able to supply some 10 million kWh of power per day.
The other three turbines of the 2,400MW Son La plant are scheduled to become operational in April, August and December next year.
The project will have six turbines to provide more than 10 billion kWh to the national grid when completed in 2015.
Apart from above mentioned projects, the state-run group has also planned to put into operation the first turbines of two other hydropower plants of Song Tranh 2 in central Quang Nam province and the Dong Nai 3 in the Central Highlands in December 2010, which will also help add more supply to Vietnam in the following months.
Vietnam is anticipated to continue facing another severe dry season during January and June, 2011.
EVN anticipated that the country would lack between 842 million and 1.4 billion kWh in the next six dry-season months.
Water reservoirs of hydropower projects across the country such as Dong Nai, Se San, Ham Thuan-Da Mi, Yaly and Hoa Binh have been reporting their water at 5-30m lower than required levels.
Hydropower plants are supplying more than 30 per cent of power for the country. The remainder comes from local thermal power plants and imported power from other countries, largely from China.
The country bought around five billion kWh of power from China in the first 11 months of the year. EVN produced 54 billion kWh and bought nearly 30 billion kWh from other local producers in the meantime.