Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

The Son La Hydropower Plant, the largest project in Southeast Asia, is
not only the pride of the country but it also marks an outstanding
growth of the electric sector of Vietnam today.
 
The plant was
officially put into operation on December 23, 2012, after seven years
of construction, three years earlier than scheduled.

Epic of the Northwest

The
Son La Hydropower Plant, dubbed a project of the century, is situated
in It Ong Commune, Muong La District of the northern mountainous
province of Son La where the Da River runs. Few people know that nearly
10 years ago, in the place where the plant is situated now there was Pa
Vinh Hamlet with about 30 houses of the Thai ethnic people.

For
those who have been a part of the “breath of the Da River” for almost
10 years, this is a moment of joy and happiness. Over 20,000 households
of the ethnic groups in Dien Bien, Son La and Lai Chau provinces have
voluntarily moved to other areas to live, leaving their land for the
construction of the plant. Tens of thousands of workers and engineers
have stuck to the construction site for seven years despite poor living
conditions and the harsh weather. The proudest fact is that all items
of the project have been designed and built by Vietnamese engineers and
workers who have devoted all their mind and heart for the project.

With
a total investment of 60 trillion VND (approximately 2.85 billion USD),
the Son La Hydropower Plant with a designed capacity of 2,400 MW and
six generators has been completed much earlier than scheduled, bringing
huge economic benefits. Every year it will create a turnover of 500
million USD and save over five million tonnes of coal which will be
needed to produce an equivalent amount of electricity. Moreover, the
plant will supply on average 10.2 billion kWh/year to the national grid.

At
the time the Son La Hydropower Plant was inaugurated, its workers were
preparing to go to Lai Chau province for a new hydroelectric project.
Before leaving, they paid tribute to their colleagues who had laid down
their lives here for the electricity of the country. Hundreds of
workers sat along the plant’s dam to pray for their souls and inform
them about the early completion of the plant after more than 2,000 hard
working days.

Talking about the workers who had been part of
this special project, Bui Phuong Nam, Head of the Technical Department
of the Son La Plant Management Board said: “To have this project of the
century, we have suffered sacrifices and losses. The requiem ceremony
today is aimed to commemorate those who have devoted all of their
efforts, minds, blood and flesh to the Son La Hydropower Plant,
contributing to creating an epic of the Da River.”

In his
speech delivered to thousands of workers, engineers and local people at
the inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warmly
praised the people in Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces for
yielding their land for the construction of the plant. He also praised
the cadres and workers of the construction company who had made great
efforts to constructing the work.

The Son La Hydropower Plant
coming into operation not only contributes to solving the energy
problem of the country in the period of industrialisation and
modernisation, but also has a great economic, political and social
significance. The project has provided opportunities for the
northwestern area to upgrade and rebuild its infrastructure, improve
the eco-environment, control floods, supply water for irrigation in the
low land, ensure security and defence in the northwest, arrange and
stabilise the life of thousands of ethnic people in the mountainous
areas, helping them develop their economy and improve their life.

Miracle of Vietnamese workers

Nghiem Cong Tan, Deputy Head of the Management Board’s Technical
Department said proudly that perhaps, in the history of the electricity
sector of Vietnam there has never been a hydroelectric project with so
many “strange” factors as the Son La Hydropower Plant. To prepare for
the ceremony of breaking the ground and blocking the river on December
2, 2005 as planned by the Party Central Committee, the entire
contingent of engineers and workers had to race against time as well as
the weather and the floods to complete a 500m-long bridge together with
125km of roads, a system of nearly 200 km of 110-220KV electric lines,
nearly 60,000sq.m of houses for thousands of workers and many other
facilities, such as the flow-conducting systems and upstream and
downstream dykes. Such amount of initial work is worthily a miracle!

According
to Tan, over 16.6 million cubic metres of rocks and earth were
excavated; over 20 million cubic metres of rocks and earth were
transported; millions of metres of earth for the foundation were
rammed; nearly 6 million cubic metres of concrete were built; and
115,000 tonnes of equipment were installed during the construction
process.

If the Son La hydroelectric project is like a
blooming flower in the upstream area of the northwest, the
hydroelectric dam is like the ‘soul’ of the plant.

To build this
dam, the engineers proposed to apply a construction method using the
roller compacted concrete (RCC), an advanced technology of the world
that Vietnam had never used to build a hydroelectric plant before. At
first, many people were worried and said the technology should not be
used for an important project of the country like the Son La Hydropower
Plant. Finally, after many debates, the use of the roller compacted
concrete technology was adopted. The Vietnamese specialists went to
many countries to learn about this technology, and at the same time
invited the world’s leading experts to come to Vietnam . Then, the
production lines of the modern roller compacted concretes were imported
from Germany and Japan . After 32 months, the major dam of the project
was complete with 2.7 million cubic metres of concrete and has become
the largest dam in Southeast Asia . It is 961.6m long and 228.1m high
and has a reserve capacity of over 9.26 billion cubic metres of water.

With
all their hearts and minds as well determination, bravery and
solidarity, the management, engineers and workers have joined their
efforts and complied with the regulations to put the six turbines into
operation ahead of schedule and ensure the required quality. The
successful construction of the Son La Hydroelectric Plant showed the
strong growth of the hydroelectric sector in Vietnam in general and the
mechanical engineering sector in particular.-VNA

By vivian