Myanmar plans purchase of Lao hydropower

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Myanmar is keen to buy electricity from Laos to power its development needs, a senior official in the field has confirmed. 

Office Head of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Dr Daovong Phonekeo, told Vientiane Times on Monday the two sides will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week, which will allow Myanmar authorities to initiate a feasibility study.

“Myanmar wants to purchase about 100-200 MW, but that will depend on the results of their feasibility study,” Dr Daovong said.

“At present it’s not clear when we will start selling electricity under this programme and at what price we will sell it.”   

Dr Daovong said Laos would supply electricity to Myanmar through northern power grids. “If everything progresses as planned, we expect to start selling electricity to Myanmar by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”

Laos currently sells only 4-5MW to Myanmar, which is a very small amount, and the two nations aim to increase this in the near future.

According to a report from Myanmar media (Eleven) on Saturday, Myanmar has adopted a National Electrification Plan under which it is planned that power will be available nationwide by 2030.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power and Energy is looking at buying power from other countries, Assistant Secretariat Min Min Oo told Eleven.

“People in Myanmar object to the development of hydropower and coal-fired power plants so these are challenges we have to overcome. Laos, China and India are offering us to sell power. We are holding discussions because of our lack of experience,” Min Min Oo said.

Laos has huge potential in hydropower, which can further drive economic growth. The country currently has 46 power plants with installed capacity of 6,757MW generating about 35,608 GWh of electricity annually.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Laos is expected to be able to generate 10,000MW of electricity by 2020 and this will rise further to 20,000MW by 2030, which will be far in excess of domestic demand.

Most of the electricity generated in Laos is sold to Thailand.

In September, Laos signed a tripartite electricity-trading agreement with Thailand and Malaysia to sell 100MW of electricity to Malaysia using Thailand’s power transmission network.

The delivery of power will begin on August 1, 2018. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Energy Ministers’ Meeting held in the Philippines. 

Lao authorities have previously held talks with Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to sell another 100MW of electricity to Singapore via the Thai and Malaysian power grids.