Myanmar should avoid coal to solve its energy shortage and opt for clean energy sources such as small- and mid-scale hydropower plants, energy analysts told a September 17 forum on power development.
“Myanmar needs more electricity, but the energy needs to come from clean sources,” Parami Energy Group CEO Pyae Wa Tun said. Coal-fired plants planned for coastal and northern areas will destroy the environment around them within a decade, he said. “That’s why we are urging the use clean energy,” he added.
Pyae Wa Tun also pointed to other problems associated with coal-fired power plants, including their reliance on importing coal. “Producing electricity from coal-fired power plants is not easy. We have to import coal from Indonesia and Australia,” he said.
Moreover, international development banks that provide funding to develop infrastructure for energy production also refuse to fund coal-fired plants, analysts said. “For example, organisations such as World Bank won’t give funds if the project is coal-fired power plant. The government should make clean energy the priority in its energy policy,” Pyae Wa Tun said.
An official from International Finance Corporation said power generation plants should not damage the environment and that local communities must be engaged.
Pyae Wa Tun said mega hydropower projects were dangerous, but mid- and small-scale hydropower plants could be built in ways that did not destroy the environment.
Only about 30 per cent of Myanmar’s population has reliable access to electricity, with about 70 per cent of this produced by hydropower. Gas turbines produce about 20 per cent and the rest comes from other sources.
The shortage of electricity is also a major obstacle to foreign investment, analysts said. The government is beginning to rely on independent power producers to generate more electricity, but it needs to consult with more experts about the long-term impacts of its strategy, Pyae Wa Tun said.