Myanmar will soon welcome the first-ever solar energy project, through the investment of about $480 million – the biggest investments by a US company in the country since the easing of sanctions. When completed in 2016, the project is expected to account for 10–12% of the country’s power generation.
US-based ACO Investment Group signed an agreement with the Ministry of Electric Power, paving the way for two 150-megawatt solar energy plants. “Efforts like these support the ambitious definition of development that is at the heart of President Obama’s trade agenda,” said Michael Froman, US Trade Representative. “By promoting trade and investment, we are unlocking even more opportunities for workers and businesses in both countries that promote not only higher incomes at home and around the world, but also drive sustainable development. We’re doing this because we know that trade works best when its benefits are broadly shared.”
Myanmar currently produces 3,300 MW of power, with licences to 23 companies operating in 84 townships. In December, the Ministry of Electric Power announced the bid for gas-fired, hydropower and coal-fired power plants. Hydropower contributes 76% of total installed capacity of the country’s power generation mix, with natural gas 21% and coal 4%.
While only 20,000 of the 64,000 villages in Myanmar have access to electricity, Myanmar plans to extend the access to 10,000 more villages this year and another 10,000 in 2015.
Managed by ACO Investment Group’s portfolio company Convalt Energy, the project in Mandalay will bring much-needed power to Myanmar’s national grid. In addition to being renewable, the project will complement other renewable power sources. Myanmar depends heavily on hydropower, which decreases in output during the dry season, when solar sources are at their peak.
ACO expects the project will create a total of 400 construction jobs in Myingyan and Meiktila districts, where the two 150MW plants are expected to be located, along with an additional 100 permanent jobs. US export content will make up about 20% of the project value.