Large hy­dropower dams still on the agenda, de­spite neg­a­tive im­pacts

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS // REPORT -

Large scale com­mer­cial hy­dropower dam projects re­main the pri­mary fo­cus of the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment in its quest to help pro­vide 100 per­cent uni­ver­sal ac­cess to elec­tric­ity by the year 2030.

In his key­note ad­dress U Nyan Tun, Min­is­ter for Elec­tric Power, In­dus­try, Science and Tech­nol­ogy told the Myan­mar Green Energy Sum­mit on Au­gust 17 that the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to de­velop large-scale and mi­cro-scale hy­dropower projects.

“In or­der to meet the in­creas­ing de­mand of power sup­ply through­out the whole coun­try, the Min­istry of Elec­tric Power is im­ple­ment­ing a large num­ber of var­i­ous kinds of hy­dropower projects in the coun­try,” said U Nyan Tun.

Hy­dropower is con­tro­ver­sial in Myan­mar. Large-scale hy­dropower dam projects have seen peo­ple from poor ru­ral ar­eas forcibly re­moved by the gov­ern­ment, as well as the de­struc­tion of the lo­cal nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Crit­ics claim the neg­a­tive im­pacts on river sys­tems and marine life mean that they are too risky an in­vest­ment. A large hy­dropower dam can take up to 10-20 years to com­plete.

At present in Myan­mar, 85 per- cent of the elec­tric­ity pro­duced by hy­dropower goes to neigh­bour­ing China and Thai­land, with only 15 per­cent sup­ply­ing lo­cal Myan­mar do­mes­tic needs.

“Ninety-two large-scale hy­dropower sites on Myan­mar’s main river basins have been iden­ti­fied, with an es­ti­mated to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 46.1 GW…,” the min­is­ter said.

The Min­istry is plan­ning to build an ad­di­tional 13 hy­dropower plants up to 2020 with a to­tal ca­pac­ity of 2,572 MW. Lo­cal en­ter­prises will de­velop another nine hy­dropower plants with a to­tal ca­pac­ity of 580 MW. A fur­ther

Sev­eral of the del­e­gates at the Myan­mar Green Energy Sum­mit. Photo: Con­nor Mac­don­ald

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