Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Myanmar dam progress urged Thailand hungry for country's hydropower

Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has urged his Myanmar counterpart to speed up the UScopy2-billion Mai Tong hydroelectric dam project as part of Thailand's target to buy 10,000 megawatts of electricity from the neighbouring country.

Located on the upper part of the Salween River, the project is expected to have a capacity of 7,000 MW and will take 12 years to construct, he said.

"We're waiting for the Myanmar government to make a clear decision on this project. So far, no definite decision has been made about whether to proceed with the Mai Tong or the Tasang dam," said Mr Pongsak.

He said the Myanmar government will likely proceed with the Mai Tong dam, as the Tasang project, located in the same area, still has unsettled issues with the concessionaire.If the Myanmar government gives the go-ahead, Mr Pongsak will instruct the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to speed up talks with potential Chinese and Myanmar partners to prepare the power purchase agreement for parliament consideration.

Thailand expects to hold 30% in the Mai Tong dam in the joint venture with Sinohydro Corporation and the China Three Gorges Corporation, both from China.

Taking into account an environmental impact assessment and community protection plan, this massive project will take 12 years to develop. Mr Pongsak said a project for a coal-fired power plant in Dawei is awaiting the Myanmar government's joint investment law to develop Dawei as a special economic zone.

The law will require endorsement by Myanmar's parliament.

"Thailand is planning to buy 10,000 MW of electricity from Myanmar comprising 7,000 from the Mai Tong project and 3,000 from the power plant in Dawei," Mr Pongsak said.

"The cooperation is to the mutual benefit of both countries. Myanmar is going through major reforms and needs electricity for development."

Thailand's power consumption is growing considerably. Hydropower and coal-fired power plants generate electricity at low cost and are part of the Asean Smart Grid Initiative for transporting power in the region to wherever there is demand, Mr Pongsak said.

Egat's subsidiaries will be joint-venture partners in the two projects. Electricity Generating Plc will take part in the Dawei project, while Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc will invest in the Mai Tong dam.