By Khine Kyaw
Investors are being urged to participate in Myanmar’s efforts to generate more electricity through clean energy sources, to capitalise on the country’s abundant natural resources.
"We need to find a sustainable way to exploit natural resources. So, we warmly welcome all investors’ participation for the growth of the energy sector in Myanmar," said Aung Khaing, chairman of the Yangon City Electricity Supply Board.
The invitation was made at the Myanmar Green Energy Summit 2014 held recently in Yangon, which drew more than 250 industry players from 22 countries. More than 20 local and international experts discussed the market potential and the most applicable technologies for the green energy sector in Myanmar.
Aung Khaing said that short- and long-term energy policies have been completed by the Ministry of Electric Power to generate more electricity.
At present, only 30 per cent of households nationwide have access to electricity.
Aung Khaing noted that electricity is critical for the country’s sustainable development, and said that with investment flowing into Myanmar from around the globe demand for electricity was rising.
Myanmar has abundant untapped hydro, biomass, wind and solar energy sources, he added. The government’s goal is to ensure that power supplies reach every corner of the country and is seriously considering renewable energy resources, he said. Clean and green energy projects could both accelerate sustainable development and benefit society.
Several companies have conducted feasibility studies to invest in clean energy projects in the country. Myanmar now uses just 5 per cent of Thailand’s energy, just 4,657 megawatts in 2009, powering the capital city, Yangon, and Mandalay in the north, but leaving the rest of the country in the dark.
Aziz Kadir, chairman of Malaysia’s Confexhub – which organised the event in collaboration with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry – echoed Aung Khaing’s statements.
"Myanmar possesses vast resource wealth in the form of green and renewable energies like hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass and is blessed with an abundant and youthful workforce," Kadir said.
He added that Myanmar’s location in the fastest-growing region in the world is ideal for commerce with China, India and the rest of Southeast Asia. It promises to be the next big market in the region, he said.
In 2009, Myanmar’s energy use was equivalent to just 5 per cent of the amount used by Thailand.
Myanmar used just 4.657 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), primarily to power the capital, Yangon and Mandalay. Most of the rest of the country was left in the dark.
"No one expects the central grid to expand into remote areas for at least a decade, if not longer. Flexible, decentralised community-based renewable energy systems like solar and micro-hydro are therefore the best way to power the countryside," Kadir said.
He added that the government is expanding efforts to use its energy resources to accelerate economic development and benefit its citizens. He urged all players in the green energy industry and supporting industries to take advantage of the newly-opened market by exploring the potential of green energy in Myanmar.
He stressed the importance of first-hand information from experts, and in-depth understanding of the latest trends and development in green industry and the numerous financing options available.
Paul Yeo, director of the summit, said it was critical to provide a platform to equip industry players with the relevant information on key development issues for green energy in Myanmar and to explore the market potential across Asia.