News 2013

Part One: A photo tour of Sunlabob’s clean energy and water projects across seven Lao provinces

The Sunlabob team recently toured through much of Laos, crossing seven provinces to visit several existing projects, ranging from our solar-powered village grid in Ban Phakeo, Luang Prabang to our solar-powered water pumping and purification project providing clean water to nearly 4,000 people in Mahaxay District, Khammouane Province.

The photo tour provides a snapshot of the many types of renewable energy-based technologies we employ, as well as the diversity of clients we work with, which range from multilateral donor agencies and non-profit organizations, to multinational companies and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

The first of two slideshows, this initial set of photos features four projects, each showcasing different approaches and solutions:

1. Solar-powered village grid in Ban Phakeo, Luang Prabang Province, Laos

Partner: Fondation Energies pour le Monde (FONDEM)

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In 2008, French non-government organization Fondation Energies pour le Monde funded Sunlabob’s design and construction of the solar-powered mini-grid system for Ban Phakeo, an off-grid village of approximately 100 households isolated from the main roads and entrenched in the mountains. We had the opportunity to visit with the Village Technician (VT) who was trained by Sunlabob to manage the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the system. He earns a monthly income from a portion of the revenue generated by the fixed monthly electricity tariffs paid by the customers in the villages. More information about Ban Phakeo cam be found here.

2. Hydro-power hybrid village grid in Ban Nam Kha, Xieng Khuang Province, Laos

Partners: AusAID, Helvetas, Government of Laos, Electricity du Laos

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Sunlabob installed two village electricity grids combining solar and hydro power with diesel back-up in remote villages near Nam Kha, providing reliable electricity to 650 households. The initial Nam Kha installation in 2007 was the first public-private partnership project for rural electrification in Laos, using feed-in tariffs once the national grid reached the community in 2010. Our recent visit to Nam Kha gave us the chance to catch up with the VTs and learn about the pro and cons of the system since being integrated into the national grid, as well as hearing about technical challenges causes from a recent lightning strike. The face-to-face meeting was certainly worth the trip! More background is available here.

3. Decentralized wastewater treatment system at Theun Hinbun Power Company

Partner: Theun Hinbun Power Company (THPC)

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Our drive southward into Khammouane Province allowed us to stop by the Decentralized Wastewater Treatment System (DEWATS) that we installed in 2011 at the campus facilities of Theun Hinbun Power Company, one of the largest hydropower producers in Laos. The DEWATS system, which relies purely on domestically sourced materials and doesn’t use any chemical processes, is currently treating domestic and industrial wastewater from the site that is occupied by more 1,000 employees and residents. We were happy to hear the THPC staff continues to be pleased with the system and is enjoying the water, energy and cost savings that has been enabled. More information here.

4. Solar-powered water pumping and purification in Mahaxay District, Khammouane Province

Partner: Global Environment Facility (GEF)

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Deeper into Khammouane Province, the Sunlabob team was able to visit Mahaxay District, where more than 3,900 people in five villages are benefitting from access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water thanks to five solar water purification systems (SWPS) the company completed in 2011.

In Laos, only half of the population has access to safe drinking water. Lack of access to clean water contributes to poverty and causes serious illnesses such as diarrhea, the biggest cause of child death in Laos today. Combining state-of-the-art technology and an innovative operational model that creates local employment, Sunlabob’s SWPS addresses these issues.

Our team was particularly thrilled to hear the representative from the Lao Women’s Union tell us about how she no longer gets stomach pain from drinking water, rarely needs to go to the doctor and now has more time to spend with her children since she isn’t forced to collect firewood every day for water boiling. More information about the program can be found here.

Coming soon:
Part Two of this photo tour will provide snapshots and updates from our Solar Lantern Rental Systems and solar-powered health refrigeration in Ta Oy, Salavan Province as well as the solar-powered water pumping systems that are benefitting nearly 4,000 people in 12 villages near the MMG Sepon gold and copper mine in Savannakhet Province.