Also in 1997, NTEC released a detailed Resettlement Action Plan which was subsequently updated in 1998, 2000 and 2002. IUCN released a detailed Environmental and Social Management Plan and Lahmeyer International and Worley International released the Study of Alternatives to the Lao Hydropower Office. Principles from the Environmental Action Plan, the Resettlement Action Plan and the Environmental and Social Management Plan are provided in Section 8. These plans, as approved by the GOL and the World Bank, will form the basis of NTPC’s environmental and social obligations under the Concession Agreement.

By the end of 2000, the GOL had endorsed the Resettlement Action Plan and the Nakai-Nam Theun NBCA Environmental and Social Management Plan, and the Mekong River Commission and the downstream Mekong River riparian states had been formally notified of the proposed development of the Project. The GOL, World Bank and NTEC had agreed on the Nam Theun Social and Environmental Project, and NTEC and EGAT had reached agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding in respect of the proposed tariff for a semi-peaking plant of 1,070 MW (net capacity).

On 19 September 2001 the Shareholders Agreement was signed by the prospective shareholders of NTPC.
On 28 August 2002, NTPC was formally established.
On 3 October 2002 the GOL and NTPC signed the Concession Agreement.
On 8 November 2003 the NTPC and EGAT signed the Power Purchase Agreement

4 Study of Alternative Options to the Project

As part of the World Bank’s requirements for its support of the development of the Project, the Study of Alternatives was undertaken to address whether there were any alternatives to the Project that would reduce any potential social and environmental impacts but would not adversely impact upon the economic and social development of the Lao PDR. The analysis was undertaken by Lahmeyer International GmbH of Germany, Worley International Ltd of New Zealand and the Hydropower Office of the GOL.

The Study of Alternatives was undertaken to answer five main questions about the viability of the Nam Theun 2 Project, namely

    * is there, or will there be, sufficient demand in Thailand to absorb the committed electricity exports from Lao PDR (targeted to be 3,000 MW at the time of        the study);
    * is the Project sufficiently competitive to be able to compete effectively with domestic power producers in Thailand;
    * how does the Project compare to other Lao PDR projects in respect of technical, environmental, social, economic and financial criteria;
    * is the configuration of the Project the most appropriate given technical, environmental, social, economic and financial criteria; and
    * should the Project be nominated as one of the projects dedicated to provide the committed export of electrical energy to Thailand.
The Study of Alternatives showed that the primary energy resources of the Lao PDR could be assessed at approximately 25,500 MW, being comprised of 23,000 MW of exploitable hydropower potential, 2,000 MW of lignite reserves, 500 MW of possible anthracite and bituminous reserves and minimal reserves of oil and gas. The hydroelectric power potential was broken down by region as shown below:

Exploitable Power
MW
Mainstream Mekong
8000
Major Mekong Tributaries
13000
Rest of Country
2000

Source: Lahmeyer and Worley

The report found that there was minimal potential for wind power due to low average wind speeds and minimal potential for large-scale solar photovoltaic or thermal power production. In addition, biomass plants, whilst feasible for small scale projects would not be sufficient for large scale export projects and, in any event, would be environmentally degrading. Lignite could be developed but would have severe negative environmental consequences.