58 hydropower projects in the pipeline

Hatgyi hydropower project on the Thanlwin.

A total of 58 hydropower projects being implemented under the special energy programme of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are expected to be completed within five or 10 years, according to a World Bank report.

Fewer than 30 per cent of households in Myanmar have access to electricity and electricity consumption per capita is among the lowest in Asean. The country’s power generation, including private generators, amounts to 48.8 per cent.

The country’s hydroelectric sector accounts for 74 per cent of overall power generation, followed by gas-fired plants with 23 per cent and coal-fired plants with 3 per cent.

A total of 24 hydropower projects are generating 3,011 megawatts, according to the Ministry of Electric Power.

The ministry will implement many 45-megawatt-hydropower projects in the Mandalay Region and the Kachin and Shan states in the coming years. The ministry has carried out feasibility studies and signed memorandums of understanding on the projects in those regions.

The World Bank Group and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) are helping Myanmar develop a more sustainable hydropower sector by promoting best practices in technical, environmental and social standards. It is estimated that Myanmar has enormous hydropower potential of up to 100,000 megawatts, more than 30 times the 3,500-megawatt output.

“Electricity is fundamental to reducing poverty and improving living standards for Myanmar’s people, and hydropower is an important part of Myanmar’s energy future but it has to be done in an environmentally and socially sustainable way,” said Karin Finkelston, vice president for Global Partnerships, which focuses on private sector development in emerging markets.

A sustainable hydropower sector would help mitigate environmental and social risks while realising the country’s huge energy potential, contributing to economic growth and shared prosperity, she said.