YANGON—An opening ceremony Thursday marked the completion of the first phase of electricity generation from Myanmar’s first solar power plant, which has been added to the national grid to supplement the country’s power needs.
Located in Minbu Township, in upper Myanmar’s Magwe Region, the Minbu Solar Power Plant was developed by Green Earth Power (Myanmar) under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract. It will have a total capacity of 170MW and produce 350 million kWh (kilowatt hours) per annum, electrifying about 210,000 households, according to a government announcement.
Each of the first three stages of construction will add 40MW of power generation capabilities while the fourth and final stage will add 50MW. With the first stage complete, the plant is now capable of producing up to 40MW of power.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended the opening ceremony, where she said that, despite several of solar power’s drawbacks—its dependence on environmental conditions, requirement for large tracts of land and high cost of electricity and battery storage—it has many advantages, including low maintenance costs, reduced levels of environment-harming emissions and increased technological development for the country.
“While hydropower stations with long construction periods were under construction, solar power stations with short construction periods, like this one, will be constructed—after careful consideration—to provide electricity,” she said.
Currently, only one-third of the country’s 60 million people are connected to the electrical grid and cities are experiencing frequent blackouts.
The government has vowed to roll out electricity coverage to 50 percent of the population by December this year and 100 percent by 2030.
The World Bank predicts that, as Myanmar’s economy grows, electricity consumption will increase by 11 percent a year until 2030, meaning the government will need to triple its power generation. The bank also predicts that Myanmar’s electricity demand will reach 8.6 gigawatts (GW) by 2025 and 12.6 GW by 2030.
Current electricity production is just 3.6GW.
In order to meet the growing demand, the government will need to invest US$2 billion a year, the World Bank estimates.
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