OBG talks to U Khin Maung Soe, Union Minister, Ministry of Electric Power (MoEP)

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U Khin Maung Soe, Union Minister, Ministry of Electric Power (MoEP)

Interview: U Khin Maung Soe

To what extent can public-private partnerships (PPPs) help to improve the nation’s power capacity over the next few years?

U KHIN MAUNG SOE: Over the next few years, PPPs will play a vital role in helping to improve Myanmar’s electric power industry. The government recognises that it could not meet electricity demand growth without the assistance of the private sector. Therefore, we invited local and foreign investors to cooperate and invest in electric power through a key media campaign on June 1, 2012. This was one of the most important steps we have taken in recent times to develop the country’s power grid. Moreover, we held a seminar, “Invitation of Local and Foreign Investors in Power Sector Development”, on September 21, 2012 by outlining investment opportunities and the forecast going forward. Currently, there are a number of private investors participating in the sector, and we have a lot of power plant projects being carried out as joint venture (JV) and build-operate-transfer (BOT) models. Local investors are also allowed to participate as independent power producers for certain hydropower projects.

Currently, 74% of electricity comes from hydropower, 23% from gas turbines and 3% from coal. What plans are in place to diversify power production?

KHIN MAUNG SOE: Hydropower is one of Myanmar’s major electricity-generation sources due to the abundance of water supply in the country. We are faced with power shortages in the dry season due to the water inflow. For the generation sub-sector, foreign direct investment can be made in the form of a JV, BOT or other suitable PPP models for power-generation projects. Nowadays, combined cycle-gas power plants are being implemented to achieve our policy of thermal power as a base load. We expect power generation by 2015-16 to be 48% from hydropower, 44% from gas turbines, 2% from coal and 6% from solar. The MoEP is responsible for carrying out power generation and distribution by applying energy resources across the country.

Construction of natural gas-fired power plants has the potential for full power generation and a reduced environmental impact. Due to the imbalance of demand and supply for electricity, the government has numerous plans in place to increase electricity production.

Given that the government aims to increase electricity production from 3970 MW currently to 24,000 MW by 2030, what projects will be important?

KHIN MAUNG SOE: Based on forecast demand through 2030-31, we need to have a total power generation capacity of 24,000 MW. In order to meet this target, and as part of the government budget for hydropower projects, 11 Nos of 2132 MW are currently under construction, with 4 Nos of 8125 MW being implemented with foreign investment and 3 Nos of 99 MW through local investors.

Currently, a coal-fired power plant as well as additional hydropower projects are undergoing feasibility studies. These projects can be carried out once various technical and geological challenges, in addition to environmental and social impacts, are fully mitigated.

What role is green energy set to play in satisfying industrial power demand, and what steps are being taken to enhance power output in rural areas?

KHIN MAUNG SOE: Green power will assist the country’s power supply and demand gap. Various initiatives include a 550-MW solar power plant, a 2000-MW wind power plant and a 200-MW geothermal power plant.

These will be completed in the near future under memorandums of understanding between the government and foreign investors In order to be effective in rural poverty reduction, government reforms are being led by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Ministry of Rural Development and the Committee of Electricity, which are aiming to enhance water access to rural areas. The World Bank is also supporting Myanmar through assistance in the development of a national electrification plan.

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The Report: Myanmar 2014

Energy chapter from The Report: Myanmar 2014

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