COVID-19 restrictions delay investors in hydropower

downloa_20200908-171513_1 An aerial view of the Three Gorges Hydropower Project on the Yangtze River, China. Photo: EPA-EFE

07 Sep 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - Investors from China and Japan who are among those most interested in developing hydropower projects in Chin State are not able to do so due to COVID-19 restrictions, said U Soe Htet, Chin State Development Affairs, Electricity and Industry Minister.

"Currently, the investment process has stopped due to COVID-19. Investors from China want to invest but are not able to come," he said.

There are 25 hydropower projects for development in Chin State. So far, investors from China, Japan, Italy and France have expressed interest in investing.

Among them is a 622-megawatt hydro-project at the Laymyo River in Paletwa township in Chin. The project has been studied by a French company for the past three years, yet there are so far no investors, said U Soe Htet.

There are nine hydro projects which are able to generate more than 30MW of power while the remaining projects generate less power.

In Parliament last month, the government said it had suspended a 380MW hydro-project at the Manipur River in Chin due to high risks. A K190 million budget for the project remains intact, according to U Tun Naing, Deputy Minister for Electricity and Energy.

The project involves blocking the Manipur River and drilling a tunnel beside the Kalay-Gantgaw Road and commenced in fiscal 2004-05 during the rule of the Tatmadaw government. It was suspended once before in 2011 by U Thein Sein's government.

During a July Parliament session, U Khin Maung Win, Deputy Minister of Electricity and Energy, told MPs that Myanmar is planning to continue implementing large hydropower projects to meet the country's electricity needs.

Due to COVID-19 in the first six months of this fiscal year, delays in implementation had occurred at the Middle Paung Laung, Upper Yeywa, Thahtay, Upper Kyaing Taung and Shweli 3 projects.

Installed capacity at hydropower plants nationwide is currently only 3225MW. In comparison, the country's 16 natural gas plants produces 3341MW of energy.

The ministry forecasts that hydropower will comprise just 37pc of the country's energy mix in fiscal 2020-21 compared to 61pc in four years ago. In comparison, close to half the electricity generated in the country will be powered by natural gas in 2020-21, compared to 35pc four years ago. 

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