Turkey Firms Up Plans to Launch Power Barge to Rangoon
By Kyaw Hsu Mon 15 November 2016
ISTANBUL — Turkey-based Karpower is looking to sail a 480 megawatt-capacity power barge from Istanbul to Burma’s commercial capital of Rangoon in April, expecting it to supply 20 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption, said Orhan Karadeniz, chief executive officer of the Karadeniz Powership energy group, at a ceremony in Istanbul on Sunday.
The 300-meter barge will be situated near Thilawa International Port in Rangoon, and is due to provide 300 megawatts a day to the city for five years.
According to an initial agreement with the Burma government, the electricity will cost US$112.24 per megawatt, said to be among the lowest electricity rates available.
“We are not using turbines. These are engines that are running on natural gas and low-sulphur HFO [heavy fuel oil] for producing electricity under a dual fuel system,” said Zeynep Harezi of Karpower.
“We’re preparing to set up transmission lines in Thanlyin-Thaketa for the purposes of supplying the electricity,” he added.
Rangoon’s electricity consumption has been rapidly increasing—by 15 percent per year—recently reaching 1200 megawatts per day—which is half of the country’s daily total electricity consumption.
In October, Karpower was awarded the tender as one of two electricity suppliers—the other one being American company APR Energy—to satisfy Rangoon’s growing energy demand, including for factories, hospitals, and schools.
The building of more factories and hotels inside industrial zones is likely one of the reasons for Rangoon’s energy-demand surge. Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said in May that the city required more electricity due to the proliferation of businesses—which have had to rely on old cable networks and other weak infrastructures that waste electricity—and that energy demand will probably only increase in light of widespread construction in the city.
“It will continue to be a struggle to distribute a sufficient supply of electricity in the coming months,” U Phyo Min Thein said earlier this year.
A 2014 Burma census revealed that only 32.4 percent of respondents use electricity as their primary source of energy for lighting, while nearly 70 percent said that their main source of energy for cooking comes from firewood, with electricity trailing at 16.4 percent.
Karpower was founded in 1996, and its first power barge went to Iraq in 2010. In June, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and offered to share Turkey’s experiences in the health, education, infrastructure, and tourism sectors. He also expressed his ambition to increase his government’s trade value with Burma.