Two foreign companies – one Thai and one Chinese – have reportedly announced their intentions of harnessing wind power in Burma.
Thai firm Gunkul Engineering Public Co Ltd is conducting feasibility studies to produce windmill-generated electricity in Mon, Karen, Shan and Tenasserim regions while China’s Three Gorges Co plans to set up similar windmill farms in Chin, Arakan, Irrawaddy and Rangoon regions, according to Burmese state-run media.
Ministry of Electric Power Assistant Director Aung Myo Win was reported in The New Light of Myanmar as saying, “Two MoUs were signed for wind power projects in Myanmar [Burma]. Feasibility studies are underway for developing commercial wind power … and it could take more than one year. They will push ahead with the business if wind power is economically feasible.”
Burma has an abundance of natural resources and nowadays most of the country’s electricity comes from hydropower. But less than 30 percent of the population has access to electricity, according to the World Bank, and few areas outside of Rangoon and Mandalay are connected to the national grid. However, Burma is currently undergoing a major process of economic reforms and an influx of new investors promises to help shore up the country’s woeful infrastructure problems.
However, the enormity of the challenges Burma faces concerning the development of infrastructure will make it difficult for the energy industry to grow, according to Aye Tun, managing director of industrial firm Aung Thein Than Co and general secretary of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, cited in June by Tim Ferry writing for industry website Renewable Energy World.
Ferry writes that renewable energy sources is the best – if not the only – option for the country. When installing electricity in rural remote areas, solar energy is the only practical method, he said.
Years ago, the concept of wind power was discarded by the government because Burma was not thought to be windy enough, however now it appears that technological advancements have made up for any shortfall.
“A large amount of electricity can be generated by wind farms, but a significant amount of investments are needed for wind energy production,” a retired officer of the Ministry of Electric Power said to The New Light of Myanmar.
DVB reported back in 2011 that Gunkul Engineering Public Co Ltd was planning on investing around $US1.9 billion in Burmese wind farms in the southeast of the country.