On the summit’s sidelines with Frontier Myanmar
Frontier Myanmar is a research and advisory firm that was established in 2014, is head-quartered in the UK and also has offices in Libya. It specialises in navigating opaque markets where reliable data is scarce. Frontier Myanmar’s Business Development Manager of Energy Antoine Drogoul and Research Manager Jack Fowler spoke to Mizzima Weekly’s Jessica Mudditt during the Myanmar Green Energy Summit held in Yangon.
Why did you decide to attend the Myanmar Green Energy Summit 2015?
AD: We’re here to meet people and to listen to discussions about what may happen. Green energy is an emerging sector in Myanmar; there’s just a little bit here and there in terms of developments. Most of the people I’ve met during the two days of the summit have been prospective players – that is, they are looking to get information on how the market will move, or the people involved in it and how things work with the ministry. It’s mostly businesses that aren’t established with offices in Myanmar and lack a clear view of the market, but are interested in coming.
JF: I’d also add that a lot of Ministry [of electric power] officials have been here at the summit, especially yesterday. I think this shows a certain amount of commitment to green energy. The government does have a plan to achieve 100 percent electrification by 2030 – and within that plan there is a section for renewable energy. Alternatives to traditional forms of energy, such as turbines and solar power, could play a role in providing energy to parts of the country that are so remote they can’t be connected to the grid.
Myanmar’s government policy excludes hydropower as a renewable source of energy, which contradicts the statements of some of the panelists at the summit. Which view is correct?
AD: Hydropower is widely considered renewable. In Myanmar, the monsoon is the biggest supplier of hydropower – the monsoon rains feed into the country’s largest river, the Ayerawaddy: it isn’t a case of ice melting. But the issue is to ensure that hydropower can generate continuous electricity in Myanmar.
Do you think that due to renewable energy being a nascent sector in Myanmar, the playing field is quite level in terms of potential investment, both foreign and local?
JF: ‘Best’ doesn’t necessarily mean the most appropriate: it’s important to take a long term view of things. There aren’t many experts on renewable energy in Myanmar because the sector is still growing globally. It’s important to have Myanmar-appropriate investment and technology. There are a lot of companies who are forwarding their specialties based on European models. Without giving specific examples, I’d say it remains to be seen how those experts and specialists apply their knowledge here or whether the growth of the industry here is better suited to different specialists and technologies.