Plan to bring more people onto the grid

Some 1.7 million people could gain electricity access – at a cost of US$670 million, according to Minister for Electrical Power U Khin Maung Soe.

The ministry has drawn up plans with help from the World Bank to extend electrification, while looking at the costs, he said at the opening of a hydropower workshop in Nay Pyi Taw.

Myanmar will apply to the World Bank for loans for $400 million of the funds, he said.

The minister said $300 million of the total $670 million will be extended to generation and distribution, while another $90 million will be earmarked for the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development to provide access in rural area. U Khin Maung Soe did not detail where the remaining $280 million will be spent.

Demand for electricity is rising about 15 percent a year, as the state works to extend the grid into previously unconnected areas. The state is currently capable of generating 4700 megawatts.

Still, about two-thirds of Myanmar’s 9 million households do not have access, he said.

Speaking at the hydropower conference two weeks ago, International Finance Corporation vice president Asia Pacific Karin Finkelston said Myanmar has enormous hydropower potential of 100,000 megawatts, or 30 times its current installed capacity.

“Electricity is essential to reduce poverty and to raise living standards of people in Myanmar. Hydropower is an important part for the future of the state’s energy sector, but it needs to be compatible with social life and not to damage environment in implementing it,” she said.

The five-year National Electrification Plan, drawn up by the Ministry of Electrical Power and the World Bank, calls for projects to be carried out that distribute electricity to half of all households by 2019.

The plan calls for 205,000 households to be added to the grid in 2015, 227,000 in 2016, 337,000 in 2018 and 507,000 in 2019.

Beyond the grid’s reach, another 200,000 households could be added using micro-generation, including technologies such as solar, wind and bio energy under the auspices of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development.

Some villagers say they have increasingly relied on solar when living off the grid.

U San Win, from Letpandan village in Nay Pyi Taw’s Lewe township, said solar panels from China are often not expensive.

“If we have K150,000 we can have light,” he said. “However, to power a television it costs K300,000 or K400,000 for solar panels.”


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