The Myanmar government will consider using liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate power and meet the current shortage of electricity in Myanmar, U Win Khine, minister at the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE), said during a meeting to raise electricity distribution on Saturday.
As it will be the first time Myanmar is using LNG to generate power, new power plants will need to be constructed, U Win Khine said.
Two LNG-powered plants are now being built in Tanintharyi Region and Ayeyarwaddy Region. When complete, the plants will generate an additional 1,230 megawatts and 1,390MW of power, respectively.
The move will help the government meet its goal of generating around 3,000MW of additional power within the next three years, or by 2020-21.
By then, households and businesses in Myanmar will need at least 6,000MW of energy to function efficiently, according to the MOEE. Currently, the country produces around 3,000MW of power.
There are now 52 power plants in Myanmar with total installed capacity of 5,000 MW. Around 60 percent of those plants are hydro-powered plants, while about a third is powered by natural gas. The remaining 10pc generates electricity through solar and other sources of power.
However, hydropower plants have limitations, especially during the dry season. Meanwhile, there is currently a shortage of natural gas to fully fuel many of the gas-powered plants. In addition, hydropower plants take longer to build and involve high levels of capital expenditure as well as potential environmental and social issues.
As such, the government is now planning to use LNG to meet a portion of the 3,000MW shortfall in electricity Myanmar now faces, U Win Khine said.
Power from a slew of new plants is also scheduled to go live over the next three years. In 2018-19 electricity from the 4 MW Yarzagyo hydro power plant, 40 MW Minbu solar power plant, 118.9 MW Thaton gas power plant, 106 MW Thaketa gas power plant and 225 MW Myingyan gas power plant will be fed into the national grid.,
Another ten power projects will be completed at various stages during the period from 2019-20 to 2021-22 to generate an additional 3,117 MW of power. Those projects comprise gas and hydro power plants in Kengtawng, Upper Yeywa, Kyaukphyu, Kanbauk, Ywama, Patolon, Myanaung, Thilawa and Mee Luang Chiang.
Power from Laos
Myanmar is also in talks to purchase electricity from neighbouring Laos, which generates most of its power through hydro sources. On January 16, the two countries agreed that Myanmar would purchase about 100-200 MW of power from Laos, subject to results of a feasibility study.
There are currently 10 million households in Myanmar, out of which just 4 million have access to electricity. More than a quarter of those households are located in Yangon, according to government data.
This is because many industrial and manufacturing businesses operate out of Yangon Region. There are currently 29 industrial zones in Yangon. While access to electricity has improved substantially over the years, it is still insufficient to meet business needs, some factories said.
Last year, some factories in Hlaing Thar Yar Industrial Zone, the largest such zone in Yangon, were forced to suspend operations due to insufficient supply of electricity.