Coal-fired power planned, but on hold

Coal-fired power plants are still on the way despite concern over their social and environmental impacts raised by civil society groups.

“We are explaining coal-fire power projects in public,” said deputy minister of electric power U Aung Than Oo. “We are still trying to get peoples’ understanding. Coal-fired projects will move to the next step when they are accepted by the public.”

The ministry has not started work on any of the planned coal-fired plants, though it has signed memorandums of understanding with foreign and local companies for 12 different projects around the country.

Four of the plants are to be near Yangon, another four in Tanintharyi Region, and one each in Shan State and Ayeyarwady and Sagaing regions.

Presently, the coal-fired projects are only at MoU status. The next steps are memorandum of agreement and joint venture agreements, he said in Yangon on March 9.

“Some companies have done feasibility studies, some have not – but none have broken ground on the projects,” said an assistant director from the ministry.

The planned coal power plants have larger capacity than several gas-fired plants, ranging between 200 to 600 megawatts installed capacity.

U Aung Than Oo said the country has not been implementing larger hydro projects and gas-fired power projects due to issues of environmental concerns, financing and a strong gas supply.

“We want people to know the environmental and social impact of greater power projects are guaranteed,” he said. “We will implement these projects in ways that cause the least social and environmental impact.”

Coal plants are also cheaper than hydro or gas plants, and therefore more helpful to address the urgent need to increase electrification. It is also a reliable source of power, as generation can be increased or decreased at will, said U Aung Than Oo.

The Ministry of Electric Power has set a target of 67 percent electricity generation by coal and gas-fired power plants by 2030, though some experts say hydropower and natural gas should not be forgotten.

“Myanmar has the potential to export up to 100,000MW from hydro,” said Ken Tun, Parami Energy chief executive officer. “The country is also the largest natural gas exporter in Southeast Asia. It is questionable for Myanmar to rush for power plants which use coal.”

List of major coal power plants

Yangon Region

– Thailand’s Toyo-Thai plans a 650-1200MW plant at Thilawa Special Economic Zone
– India’s Orange Powergen, Singapore’s Global Adviser and Myanmar’s Diamond Palace Services plan a 500MW plant in Kyauktan township
– Huaneng Lancang and Htoo Company plan a 270MW plant in Htantabin township
– Virtue Land, subsidiary of Asia World, plan a 300MW plant in Kwan Chan Gone

Tanintharyi Region

– Thailand’s RATCH and Blue Energy & Environment, Myanmar’s Vantage and Kyaw Kyaw Phyo plan a 2460MW plant in Myeik
– Cwave Global and 24 Hours Mining & Industry plan a 500MW plant in Boat Pyin

Mon State

– Thailand’s Toyo-Thai Group plans a 1280MW plant in Yay township

Ayeyarwady Region

– India’s TATA Power plans a 660MW project in Nganyoutkaung township

Shan State

– Thailand’s Lumpoondum plans a 500MW plant in Kyineton

Sagaing Region

– Singapore’s ISDN and Myanmar’s Tun Thwin Mining plan a 270MW plant

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