Myanmar’s first commercial solar-power plant in Minbu, Magwe Region, was launched last week, adding 40MW of power to the national grid. Construction of the Minbu Solar project began in February 2018 under a Build, Operate and Transfer arrangement between Green Earth Power (Myanmar) Co and the government.
The Minbu project will be completed in four phases and ultimately will have the capacity to generate 170MW of power and produce 350 million kilowatt hours per annum of energy, which is sufficient to electrify about 210,000 households.
The Minbu plant is part of the government’s long term goal to electrify the entire country by 2030; and to provide 55% of the country with electricity by 2021.
This will be achieved by adding to capacity via power projects of different sizes and dimensions, including foreign invested plants, state-owned plants and the expansion of power transmission lines.
The government plans to use multiple sources for its energy needs based upon short-term, medium-term and long-term needs. As an example, solar, wind and liquefied natural gas projects can be brought online in the short and medium-terms while long-term projects such as hydropower plants are being developed.
The government is planning to provide about 1,200MW of power through the development of LNG and gas-fired plants over the short term, adding to the 393MW of power in the first half of this year.
At current levels, Myanmar produces between 2900MW and 3100MW of electricity, enough for just 44% of the country. This is an increase from 2015-2016, when only 34% of the country had access to electricity. According to government statistics, between 2016 and 2019, a total of 68 townships and 5,191 villages were able to receive round-the-clock access to electricity.
The World Bank says that to address its rapidly growing electricity demand for both business and consumer needs, that Myanmar needs to invest $2 billion USD per year into power creation. This amount is double the country’s current investment level. The World Bank also says that the government needs to implement projects three times faster than current project timelines so that its economy can grow at its projected levels and keep up with growth in neighboring Mekong counties such as Thailand and Vietnam.