First solar energy plants planned in Myanmar

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3A81TRJ72FMyanmar will soon see its 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 to 12 per cent of the country’s power generation.

US-based ACO Investment Group on August 28 signed an agreement with the Ministry of Electric Power, paving the way for two 150-megawatt solar energy plants. US Trade Representative Michael Froman witnessed the signing. In a statement, the company attributed the agreement to the extensive advocacy by senior officials the US Departments of State and Commerce. In July 2012, the US lifted nearly all of its sanctions on the country.

“Efforts like these support the ambitious definition of development that is at the heart of President Obama’s trade agenda,” said Froman during his remarks at the ceremony. “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 megawatts of power, with licenses 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 per cent of total installed capacity of the country’s power generation mix, natural gas 21 per cent and coal 4 per cent.

While only 20,000 of the 64,000 villages in Myanmar have access to electricity, the government plans to extend the access to 10,000 more villages this year and another 10,000 in 2015.

In 2013, Thai solar developer SPCG announced plans to operate small renewable solar farms to serve demand for electricity in rural communities in Myanmar. In the same year, another Thai company, Green Earth Power, also signed a memorandum of understanding for a 210 megawatts solar project with Myanmar’s electric power ministry. There has been no progress.

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 100 per cent 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.

According to Bloomberg, ACO co-founder Hari Achuthan, a former Credit Suisse Group AG banker, said last year that the fund is betting $700 million on Myanmar as the country offers investors the best growth opportunity in Southeast Asia.

ACO expects the project will create a total of 400 construction jobs in Myingyan and Meiktila districts, where the two plants are expected to be located, along with an additional 100 permanent jobs. US export content will make up about 20 per cent of the project value.

In a statement, the Office of the US Trade Representative said that communities in the Mandalay Region would also benefit from the project’s investments in infrastructure and training. The project will boost the city’s manufacturing potential and resources and help provide power to develop the Myotha Industrial Zone, which is located within 15 miles of one of the plants. Additionally, the project will improve local logistics infrastructure, especially for the solar industry, but also more generally through developing roads.

It added that as part of their responsible investment efforts, many US companies are actively engaging local communities through corporate social responsibility programmes. These include, for example, making available millions of dollars in microfinance to rural citizens, funding programmes for empowering women entrepreneurs, and providing clean water to those without access to potable water. Continuing this tradition, Convalt has pledged to train local employees and help build libraries at nearby schools.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Myanmar will soon see its 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.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

3A81TRJ72FMyanmar will soon see its 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 to 12 per cent of the country’s power generation.

US-based ACO Investment Group on August 28 signed an agreement with the Ministry of Electric Power, paving the way for two 150-megawatt solar energy plants. US Trade Representative Michael Froman witnessed the signing. In a statement, the company attributed the agreement to the extensive advocacy by senior officials the US Departments of State and Commerce. In July 2012, the US lifted nearly all of its sanctions on the country.

“Efforts like these support the ambitious definition of development that is at the heart of President Obama’s trade agenda,” said Froman during his remarks at the ceremony. “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 megawatts of power, with licenses 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 per cent of total installed capacity of the country’s power generation mix, natural gas 21 per cent and coal 4 per cent.

While only 20,000 of the 64,000 villages in Myanmar have access to electricity, the government plans to extend the access to 10,000 more villages this year and another 10,000 in 2015.

In 2013, Thai solar developer SPCG announced plans to operate small renewable solar farms to serve demand for electricity in rural communities in Myanmar. In the same year, another Thai company, Green Earth Power, also signed a memorandum of understanding for a 210 megawatts solar project with Myanmar’s electric power ministry. There has been no progress.

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 100 per cent 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.

According to Bloomberg, ACO co-founder Hari Achuthan, a former Credit Suisse Group AG banker, said last year that the fund is betting $700 million on Myanmar as the country offers investors the best growth opportunity in Southeast Asia.

ACO expects the project will create a total of 400 construction jobs in Myingyan and Meiktila districts, where the two plants are expected to be located, along with an additional 100 permanent jobs. US export content will make up about 20 per cent of the project value.

In a statement, the Office of the US Trade Representative said that communities in the Mandalay Region would also benefit from the project’s investments in infrastructure and training. The project will boost the city’s manufacturing potential and resources and help provide power to develop the Myotha Industrial Zone, which is located within 15 miles of one of the plants. Additionally, the project will improve local logistics infrastructure, especially for the solar industry, but also more generally through developing roads.

It added that as part of their responsible investment efforts, many US companies are actively engaging local communities through corporate social responsibility programmes. These include, for example, making available millions of dollars in microfinance to rural citizens, funding programmes for empowering women entrepreneurs, and providing clean water to those without access to potable water. Continuing this tradition, Convalt has pledged to train local employees and help build libraries at nearby schools.

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