Chinese Firms Dominate Myanmar Solar Power Project Bids

By Aung Thiha 8 October 2020

Yangon — Six Chinese firms won the tender to implement 16 out of 30 solar power projects across Myanmar, according to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

The ministry in May invited bids for the construction of 30 ground-mounted solar projects capable of generating a total of 1 gigawatt (GW) of power under a 20-year build, operate and own contract. The minimum investment is set at US$20 million (25.8 billion kyats) per site.

Among the 30 proposed solar sites are four in Ayeyarwady Region, seven in Bago, six in Magwe, five in Mandalay, four in Sagaing, three in Naypyitaw and one in Yangon.

Sungrow Power Supply Co. won the tender to implement eight projects, the maximum number of projects among the tender winners. A consortium of SPIC Yunnan International Power Investment Co., Ltd. and Khaing Lon Gems won four projects. Two China-Myanmar joint ventures and two Chinese companies won a project each.

Each project will generate 30 to 40 megawatts of electricity.

“We are proceeding in line with the tender process. We selected the companies that offered the best prices. We will also announce tender winners of the other projects soon,” said a senior officer at the ministry’s tender selection committee.

The ministry selected the companies based on the prices they would sell electricity from the project. According to the deals, the companies are required to supply electricity six months after winning the tender.

“Though the COVID-19 outbreak is ongoing, there are things that they can do at present, for example, groundworks. Since we invited bids, we set terms that tender winners must implement the project within six months,” said the officer.

According to the ministry, Chinese companies offered to sell electricity at prices between 3.5 and 5.1 US cents (45-65 kyats) for 1kWh of electricity.

In the first stage, the ministry selected Chinese companies for 28 out of 30 projects. The tender for one of the two remaining projects was canceled, one of which was won by a German company. It is, therefore, likely that Chinese companies will win the majority of the projects.

Some industrialists have criticized the ministry’s choices, saying that focusing on price can compromise quality.

Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi opened the country’s first solar power plant in Minbu Township, Magwe Region, in June last year. The plant is currently producing 40 megawatts and supplies power to Rakhine State.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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