Myanmar govt considering renewables: energy minister

Photo – Maung Maung Aye Thu


The National League for Democracy-led government says it is now considering a number of renewable energy proposals.

The Minister of Electricity and Energy U Win Khaing announced the decision after a meeting of the National Renewable Energy Committee this week.

He said proposals being considered include 61 solar power projects totalling 5746.37 megawatts in eight regions and states, seven wind power projects (1163MW) in four regions, and six biomass projects (200MW) in four regions and states.

The meeting touched on the incorporation of solar power generation in agriculture and fisheries schemes and other proposals such as hydropower plants, the minister said. He added the meeting also discussed the pricing for renewables.

The government is reviewing the projects based on their location, technology, design, installed capacity, proximity to the nearest sub-station and the national grid, and their social and environmental impacts, U Win Khaing said. The government seeks to promote renewables as part of its energy mix plan.

The NLD government’s energy policy and the record of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) have come under increasing scrutiny as the dry season has kicked in and there are fears of power cuts. MOEE is now rushing ahead five emergency power projects with consortia led by Hong Kong-listed VPower and China Energy Engineering Corp. Myanmar’s power generation capacity of about 3100 MW for the dry season is around one third short of demand and the gap is growing by 15-17 percent annually. MOEE has not signed off any major power project over the last four years, apart from Sembcorp’s Myingyan plant, which was finalised by the previous administration under U Thein Sein.

Renewables, particularly solar power, have attracted more investor interest as the cost of generating electricity from panels has become more affordable than gas-fired plants with the increase in electricity tariffs last July.

Myanmar is making progress in electrification. 34pc of the population had access to the national grid in 2016, a figure which rose to 50pc last December. The government aims to secure 100pc electrification by 2030.

For those communities that have to wait years for the grid to arrive, mini-grids have emerged as an attractive proposition. Earlier this month, a Norwegian fund-backed joint venture with Yoma Strategic completed installing US$28 million worth of solar plants in remote areas.

In Sagaing Region, Yoma Micro Power launched its 250th off-grid solar plant in Thint Sein Gyi village. The $100,000 plant has a peak capacity of 31.2 kilowatt, providing power to around 1000 villagers. Norwegian development body Norfund, the World Bank’s International Finance Corp and Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic formed the company with CEO Alakesh Chetia. It has so far invested $28 million investments in the 250 plants.


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