Myanmar is cooperating with four Asian neighboring countries of Thailand, China, South Korea and Bangladesh in hydropower development, initiating major hydropower projects in recent years.
A giant Myanmar-Thai joint venture hydropower project, which is the 7,110-megawatt (mw) Tar-hsan hydropower one, is being implemented on the Thanlwin River in eastern Shan state's Tachilek.
The 6-billion-U.S.-dollar hydropower project, which started in last April, is one of the two signed with Thai companies during the past two years.
The Tar-hsan project, which can produce 35.446 billion kilowatt- hours (kwh) a year, is implemented by the Myanmar Hydropower Implementation Department of the Ministry of Electric Power and the MDX Group Co Ltd of Thailand. The project also involves shares of Ratchaburi Co and Chkarnchang Co of Thailand and the China Gezhouba Water and Power Group Co Ltd, according to earlier official reports.
The other joint venture project is a 600-mw Hutgyi on the same river in eastern Kayin state signed with the EGAT Public Company of Thailand. The plant consists of a 600-mw turbine that can produce 3.82 billion kwh yearly.
The two Thai-Myanmar hydropower projects constitute part of those on Thanlwin and Tanintharyi River agreed in June 2005 by the two countries. Electricity generated from both of the plants will be mainly sold to the Southeast Asian neighbor with the rest reserved for domestic use, according to the project officials.
Myanmar has signed five contracts respectively with some Chinese companies since 2004 on the implementation of the country's 790-mw Yeywa hydropower project on the Myitnge River, 50 kilometers southeast of Mandalay, which will generate 3.55 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year upon completion.
The Chinese companies involved in the Yeywa project are the China National Electric Equipment Corporation, a joint venture consortium consisting of the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) Technology Co Ltd and Sinohydro Corporation Ltd., the China Gezhouba Water and Power (Group) Co Ltd and the China National Heavy Machinery Corporation (CHMC).
Besides, Myanmar also signed an agreement with the Yunnan Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Co Ltd (YMEC) of China on the Upper Paunglaung Hydroelectric Power Project located in the east of Pyinmana, northern Mandalay division.
In April 2007, Myanmar inked a memorandum of understanding with the Farsighted Investment Group Co Ltd and Gold Water Resources Ltd of China on the implementation of the Upper Thanlwin hydropower project.
Moreover, the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) was also reportedly to build seven hydropower projects for Myanmar on the confluence of Ayeyawaddy river and Maykha and Malikha rivers in Kachin state with a combined capacity of 13,360 mw.
In cooperation with South Korea in developing the sector, Myanmar agreed in July 2006 with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) to develop Myanmar's electric power network dealing with management and operation. The network project, worth of 1.4 million U.S. dollars, includes the transfer of South Korean knowledge and experience in power system operation and protection, general facilities testing, fault analysis and the provision of relay equipment, the South Korean sources said.
A latest move by Myanmar is that the country is likely to export hydropower to Bangladesh, deliberating to build hydropower plants in the western state of Rakhine linking the south Asian neighbor for the power sale.
The project probably involves Bangladesh investment, subject to the outcome of a deal by a Bangladeshi delegation which is expected to visit Myanmar shortly.
According to the government's National Investment Commission, the electric power sector dominated foreign investment in Myanmar with 6.311 billion U.S. dollars as of the end of January this year,
In addition to the projects with the Asian nations, Myanmar is currently giving priority to implementing some six hydropower projects scattered in the country's Shan and Kachin states to increase electricity production to also help solve the country's power shortage.
These six projects are Shweli-1 (600 mw) , Shweli-2 (460 mw), Shweli-3 (360 mw), Tarpein-1 (240 mw), Tarpein-2 (168 mw) and Upper Thanlwin (2,400 mw) among others which have been under construction.
According to official statistics, Myanmar had a total of over 1, 775 mw of installed generating capacity of electric power as of September 2006, up from 706.82 mw in 1988 when there were only 24 power plants in the country, of which 14 were hydropower ones.
Myanmar faces serious power shortage. However, the country, which has rich water resources, possesses great potential for the development of the sector.
With successful cooperation with the Asian neighbors in development of the hydropower sector so far, Myanmar still needs much more foreign investment and cooperation to make greater achievement, observers here said.