Burma

Burma’s Electricity Demand Predicted to Nearly Double By 2020

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 17 November 2016

RANGOON — Demand for electricity consumption in Burma could double over the next four years, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and government officials have predicted.

Electricity consumption throughout Burma is limited to 2,500 megawatts per day, while total production is 4,500 megawatts from both hydropower and thermal power production. The commercial capital of Rangoon accounts for more than half of the country’s total consumption.

“There are high and low electricity demand forecasts for Myanmar in 2020. The high case would be if it reached 4,531 megawatts, while the low case could be if it reached 3,862 megawatts per day for the whole country,” Bui Duy Thanh, the ADB’s senior energy economist told the Irrawaddy on Thursday at the 4th Myanmar Power Summit in Rangoon.

In the ADB’s 20-year forecast, demand for electricity in Burma could reach 14,542 megawatts per day by 2030, or it could cap at 9,100 megawatts.

“The Ministry of Energy is responsible for working to meet these demands in the forecasted years, but actually we don’t know if the ministry can meet them or not,” Bui Duy Thanh said.

There are many limitations in transmitting electric power to consumers in Burma. National grid lines, for example, are old and infrastructure is lacking.

“The Ministry will have to look at system reform,” he said, taking the position that more private sector involvement is needed in order to meet the forecasted demands. The ADB estimates that US$27 to 30 billion is required for generating electricity, $6 to 10 billion for strengthening the transmission and distribution network, and $6 to 7 billion for electrification in rural areas.

U Yan Lin, chief engineer of the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation, told The Irrawaddy that the increasing demand could be met if the electricity production rate increases through new generating sources—not only hydropower and thermal power.

“The consumption rate is increasing at least 15 percent each year, so if we can produce more power through new sources, it can be met,” he said of the demands.

U Yan Lin pointed out that Burma’s biggest hydropower project, the Yeywa dam in Mandalay Division, produces less than 800 megawatts of electricity per day.

He also feels that the current production capacity of 4,500 megawatts per day will be insufficient once more foreign direct investment comes to the country.

“Most questions that foreign investors are asking us are related to whether we can supply power or not, but we can’t still guarantee this so far,” U Yan Lin explained.

In Burma, an estimated 70 percent of electricity is produced through hydropower, while thermal power plants make up much of the remainder.

Turkey’s Karpower is planning to sail a power barge to Burma in April capable of producing 300 megawatts of electricity per day through the use of natural gas and residual fuel oil.

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