Myanmar ‘Must Review Energy Policies’

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WITH two-third of the population lacking access to the national grid, Myanmar needs to find the most suitable energy policies for domestic consumption, according to civil society organisations.

A total of 422 CSOs signed a statement that called a halt to coal plants and mega dams at the end of the recent Myanmar Green Energy Forum. The event aims at promotion and strengthening of green activism in Myanmar through coalition building and coordinated advocacy as well as boosting communication between anti-dam and anti-coal groups in the country.

Aung Myint, general secretary of Renewable Energy Association Myanmar (REAM), said on Tuesday that Aung San Suu Kyi-led government should not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations.

“The government needs to be transparent about the future of proposed coal power plants and hydropower dams in Myanmar and quickly inform the public about its energy plans. All contracts for proposed mega development projects should be published without hesitation,” he said.

Aung Myint noted that Myanmar’s energy plans place a heavy focus on coal and hydropower as solutions to its energy needs. He suggested shifting the focus on renewable energy, especially community-owned off-grid solutions, which can be much cheaper than expansion of the national grid.

According to Myanmar’s energy master plan released earlier this year with the support of Asian Development Bank, the nation aims to provide electricity to everyone in Myanmar by 2030, with 38 per cent from hydropower,33 per cent coming from coal, 20 per cent from natural gas, and only 9 per cent from renewable energy.

“If we can produce strategically, renewable energy would be the cheapest solution for power production. Unfortunately, it is the least important in the energy mix because it is hard to get connected to the national grid. But we can make use of the latest technologies to make it happen,” he said.

According to Aung Myint, the government needs to set policies to encourage the use of renewable energy, especially in off-grid areas.

“We have abundant resources for renewable energy. We can improve our solar home system, and have a lot of places suitable for wind energy. Especially, we have bright potential for the solar business. But we do not have clear policy for the green energy. As a result, we may face the influx of factory default solar products from China,” he said.

Saw Tha Phoe, coordinator of Karen Environmental & Social Action Network, said that mega hydropower dams and coal-fired power plants threatened to uproot communities, damage ecosystems, livelihoods, food security, and ethnic culture, cause pollution, fuel climate change and aggravate conflicts across the country.

“For decades, Myanmar’s military rulers approved destructive energy projects that exported electricity to neighbouring countries, while local communities suffered only negative impacts,” he said.

 

Source: Myanmar Eleven

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