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Local hydropower association goes independent

The Myanmar Hydropower Developer’s Association (MHDA), led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has now become an independent Myanmar-registered group promoting sustainable work in the country’s hydropower sector, it announced on Wednesday.

Founded in 2016 as the Hydropower Developers’ Working Group, MHDA is a platform where hydropower firms and related professionals are able to support talks, influence policies, and improve environmental and social management processes and governance.

As its first initiative, the MHDA has partnered up with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy to produce standardised concessions and power purchase agreements for hydropower projects.

These agreements will help regulate the rights and obligations of both developers and the government, and ensure projects will meet the accountability requirements of international lenders and comply with environmental and social standards.

“We believe the MHDA is uniquely placed to make significant contributions to the sustainable development of Myanmar’s hydropower sector,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC’s country manager for Myanmar and Thailand.

Myanmar is South East Asia’s largest thriving market for electricity. It is estimated that currently, 60 percent of the population does not have access to power. The government’s National Electrification Plan aims to electrify 7.2 million households and provides universal energy access by 2030.

With the nation’s vast untapped hydrological resources of about 95 GW and nearly 100 hydropower projects operating, being built, or in the planning stages, the hydropower sector is crucial for Myanmar’s economic growth and social development.

An example of a hydropower project which became highly controversial is Myitsone Dam project. Talks will be made on whether to resume Myitsone during the second Belt and Road Forum (April 25-27) attended by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The hydropower project is one of seven hydropower plants planned for the upper reaches of the Ayeyarwady River as well as the Mali and N’Mai, at whose confluence the Ayeyarwady starts.

The 6000MW dam, backed by State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC, then known as China Power Investment Corporation), was supposed to send 90pc of its electricity to China’s Yunnan Province. Then-President U Thein Sein suspended work in building the US$3.6 billion dam in 2011, owing to widespread opposition within the country.

Hydropower has the capacity to aid Myanmar’s development but a balance must be struck between fulfilling the country’s energy demand and protecting local environment and communities, said Aung Zaw Naing, chair of MHDA’s executive committee. “To support that, we aim to promote health and safety standards, sustainable regulation, and strengthen compliance,” he said.

MHDA is currently looking for members, from local and foreign-owned hydropower developers, operators, EPC contractors, to vendors and industry professionals that are currently or planning to operate in Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Times

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