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Hydroelectric plant spurs development in Laos and Thailand

Situated in Southeast Asia, Laos is a land-locked country with a high poverty rate.  Laos sought to strengthen its economy by developing a hydroelectric plant to generate power and create a stable water supply.

Laos and Thailand decided to collaborate in producing 3000 MW of hydroelectricity in Laos for export to Thailand. The $1.5 billion Nam Theun 2 (NT2) project would harness the power of the Nam Theun River. It required a trans-basin diversion of waters from the Nam Theun to a powerhouse at the base of the Nakai escarpment, and from there to the Mekong River.

Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB), a Louis Berger affiliate, was chosen by International Design-Build Construction Consortium for bid design engineering of two main civil works packages. These packages included:

  • A roller-compacted concrete (RCC) main dam and reinforced concrete spillway, diversion tunnel, RCC cofferdams, 10 reservoir saddle dams , headrace channel and site access.
  • A 3-unit main powerhouse supplying export power to Thailand, adjoining a 2-unit powerhouse supplying power to the local Lao grid, switchyard civil facilities, tailrace and associated powerhouse area buildings.

To address construction challenges created by annual flooding of the Nam Theun River, KCB developed a diversion plan that allowed for construction of the Nakati Dam during dry seasons over three years.

The project was completed on time and began operations in March 2010. The NT2 powers about 3 million Thai homes. Revenues from NT2 will enable Laos to further alleviate poverty and invest in education, health and infrastructure.  The project dramatically improves living conditions for 6,500 people living on the Nakati Plateau, who now have electricity and a steady water supply.