EIA: Nam Ngiep 1 Hydropower Project

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The Nam Ngiep 1 Hydropower Project (NNHP-1) is located on the Nam Ngiep River, is a left bank tributary of the Mekong River, with the confluence about 7 km upstream of the town of Pakxan (Paksane) in Bolikhamxay province. The source of the river is near the town of Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang province. The River flows from north to south from its origin on the Tra Ninh plateau at EL.1,200 m down to the Mekong plain at EL.160 m. The maximum altitude of the ridge surrounding the catchment area to west of the Nam Ngiep River basin, is 2,819 m. The river flows for nearly 160 km, and it drops a total of 1,030 m along its course. At its confluence with the Mekong, the Nam Ngiep has a total catchment area of 4,494.7 km2 and is composed of 33 tributaries (sub-catchments) (Figure 1-1).

The main objective of the NNHP-1 is to provide commercial electricity to neighboring countries of the Lao PDR in order to earn foreign exchange needed for national development, with a secondary objective of providing electricity for the national grid. It is expected that one of the main environmental impacts caused by the NNHP-1 will be the loss of forest ear. Assessing the main features of the project, it can be seen that the reservoir will inundate forested area of 66.9 km2 (6,690 ha), of which more than half is now scrub or unstocked forest. Taking the entire official forest area into account, the comparative loss of forest of the NNHP-1 will be much less than that of Nam Theun 2: the ratio of loss official forest land per MW of NNHP-1 will be 23.7 ha/MW compared to that of Nam Theun 2 at 41.7 ha/MW. Given the highly degraded condition of the unstocked forest in the reservoir, the ratio of loss of actual forest is even less, at about 12 ha/MW.

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