Australia and UK collaborate to support floating solar in Laos

Group of people standing in front of the camera
Left to right: Mr. Cashel Gleeson, Chargé d’Affaires from the British Embassy in Laos, Mr. Manasinh Vongsay, General Manager of Lao Holding State Enterprise and H.E. Paul Kelly, Australian Ambassador to Laos, shake hands at the floating solar signing ceremony in Vientiane, Laos on 7 July 2023

The Australian Embassy in Laos and the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) are partnering with Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE) to strengthen the planning, financing and management of floating solar projects in Laos.

Delivered through the FCDO and Australia’s Partnerships for Infrastructure initiative, technical support to LHSE will include capacity building workshops on renewable energy and floating solar engineering, financial advice on the construction and operation of floating solar sites, and a study tour to a floating solar site in Thailand.

Australian Ambassador to Laos, H.E. Paul Kelly, said there is considerable potential for the combined use of both floating solar and hydro in Laos following considerable investments in hydropower across the country.

“Floating solar is an important new technology option for Laos that can be used in conjunction with hydropower to help provide year-round energy stability,” Ambassador Kelly said.

“Both Australia and the UK are investing in large floating solar plants at home and have lessons to share with Laos on project development, financing and operations.”

Hybrid energy generation will seek to help address the shortage of year-round baseload power in Laos, which is critical to improving energy stability and expanding energy export capability.

Mr Cashel Gleeson, Chargé d’Affaires from the British Embassy in Laos, said the capacity building workshops will strengthen LHSE’s understanding of floating solar technologies, trends in renewable energy procurement and sustainable financing.

“The UK and Australia are working together to enhance the capacity of the LHSE to plan and manage floating solar projects which will help Laos access climate finance and help the country achieve its green economy ambitions,” said Mr Gleeson.

Floating solar panels, or floating photovoltaics, collect energy from the sun by sitting on top of calm bodies of water. The advantages are less use of valuable agricultural land, more power generation due to water cooling, less water evaporation, and the utilisation of existing water bodies, such as hydropower sites.

The technical workshops and energy tour to Thailand for LHSE staff are scheduled for late 2023. The collaboration with the UK complements Australia’s wider renewable energy planning and technology support through the Laos-Australia Sustainable Energy Partnership (LASEP), signed by Australia’s Foreign Minister in May 2023.

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