After Laos dam collapse, Korea funds off-grid prototype town

A South Korean energy consultant will try and develop an energy self-sufficient town in Laos after the fatal collapse of a dam being built by a Korean firm.

The $3.3m project will be funded by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to help the country recover from the collapse in July that left 36 people dead, 98 missing and 6,600 displaced.

Following an alternative model of decentralised, local energy generation, the new town will provide all its own power from solar and small hydro schemes.

Consultant Kumho E&G announced on 17 September that it had been named main contractor for the town, which will be set up at the Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area in Nakai, central-eastern Laos.

Kumho hopes the idea of local energy microgrids will be taken up for remote communities not connected to national grids all across South East Asia.

It created a solar-powered microgrid in a village in Myanmar last year.

In Laos, Kumho will train the villagers so they can maintain their energy systems.

"We hope this project will provide some hope to Laotian residents who have been affected by the flood," said an official Kumho E&G.

In July, the Saddle Dan D, part of a hydroelectric system under construction in Champasak province, south-eastern Laos, collapsed after heavy rainfall, causing a flood that submerged six villages in the downriver province of Attapeu. The dam was a joint venture of Korean, Lao and Thai firms, with Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction the main contractor.

Image: The Laotian village will be a model for other remote communities in South East Asia (Creative Commons)

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