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Powering Myanmar with GE

Myanmar is a country undergoing a period of unprecedented growth. Its economy has multiplied exponentially over the last two decades, with GDP growing from US$8.9 billion in 2000 to almost US$70 billion by 2017. Sustained and rapid economic growth now places Myanmar one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN, a region itself recognised by the McKinsey Global Institute as one of the world’s best performing economic areas.

Fundamental to continued growth will be energising a nation with rapidly expanding electricity needs. That conversation was central to the recent Powering Myanmar event, hosted by GE in Nay Pi Taw on 20 November 2018. So with a theme of ‘Bringing More Power to More People’, let’s explore the landscape of electricity in Myanmar.

Energy and people

Energy and people are where growth starts, and understanding that relationship paints a powerful portrait of Myanmar’s current energy landscape.

Myanmar’s total installed capacity as of 2016 was roughly 4.7 GW for a population of 53 million people. Contrast that to Asian powerhouse South Korea, where a population of 50 million enjoy access to a total installed capacity of 106 GW.

This highlights one of the key challenges in Myanmar’s electricity landscape, with per capita electricity consumption the lowest in ASEAN, and one of the lowest in the world, at just 0.29 MWh. In contrast, residents of regional neighbour Singapore consume 9.04 MWH per capita.

Generation in focus

Myanmar’s electricity consumption has expanded in parallel with its impressive economic growth. World Bank figures show that total electricity consumption grew from just 1.82 terawatt hours (TWh) in 1990 to 15.48TWh by 2016.

Powering that expansion in the electricity landscape has involved a significant focus on two main energy sources – hydropower and gas. Analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals that hydropower accounted for almost 55% of all electricity generated in Myanmar in 2016, with gas accounting for ~45%. Oil and coal complete the picture, making up just a small fraction of that overall energy mix.

 A tale of two extremes

There’s no doubt that Myanmar’s electricity landscape is a tale of two extremes. The commercial capital of Yangon accounts for roughly half of the nation’s electricity consumption. That demand is expected to expand significantly in coming years, almost doubling to 3,000 MW by 2021-22.

While Yangon creates a focus of demand, rural areas face the pressing hurdle of access to electricity. According to World Bank figures, access to electricity rose from 35.6% in 1990 to over 60% by 2015. That still frames a challenge of ensuring appropriate access to roughly 20 million citizens without electricity.

Investing in the future

Powering Myanmar brought into focus two key areas of the nation’s electricity ambitions. Myanmar is focused on pushing forward expansion in its total installed generation capacity, with consideration of a balanced fuel mix to build a secure future. That future must be underpinned by ambitions to ensure basic access to electricity is a right enjoyed by every citizen.

“Myanmar needs to upgrade our generation capability in order to supply much-needed electricity to the rapidly growing economy. Under the new government, we have our pledge to our people that an additional 3,000 megawatt will be provided within 3 years and it is our commitment to our people,” said U Han Zaw, Deputy Director General of Department of Electricity Power Planning.

Alongside that ambition to add 3 gigawatts of installed capacity, the National Electrification Program declares a goal of achieving 100% electrification by 2030. That will ensure that the millions of citizens who currently miss out will gain access to the pivotal opportunity that electricity brings.

The ADB estimates that under a medium growth scenario, Myanmar will require a quadrupling of its installed capacity from 4.3 gigawatts in 2015 to 16 gigawatts by 2030. In the best-case scenario, that requirement will necessitate an investment of US$28 billion in power generation according to analysis laid out in the Energy Master Plan. Meeting that demand will require continued commitment from private and public bodies in partnership.

Powerful solutions from GE

“Powering Myanmar was a good opportunity for GE to learn more about Myanmar’s energy landscape directly from the leaders, and stakeholders, driving change to see where we can bring our infrastructure experience in 180 countries, to bear.” Wouter Van Wersch, President and CEO, GE ASEAN-ANP.

With its leading global expertise, GE has extensive experience tackling critical energy infrastructure challenges around the world, providing powerful solutions to bring more power to more people.

Fast Power: The TM2500 aero-derivative gas turbine offers fast, flexible power, with installation and commissioning in as little as 11 days. It delivers 34-37MW of high-efficiency power to meet urgent electricity needs of rural communities and rapidly growing economies.

Efficient Power: GE’s 7HA gas turbine is a record-breaking and record-holding driver of efficiency. The 63.08% gross efficiency demonstrated at the Chubu Electric Nishi-Nagoya power plant Block-1 in Japan ensures secure, efficient power that delivers millions of dollars of savings for customers.

Ultra-Supercritical Solutions: GE’s ultra-supercritical (USC) coal technology delivers efficiency of up to 47.5%, significantly higher than the global average of 34%. Every 1% improvement in efficiency results in a 2% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Small Hydropower: Small hydro projects from GE provide simple, rapid and effective electricity generation solutions that are less capital intensive and unlock a new distributed power opportunity for communities.

Digital Enhancement: GE’s suite of digital solutions ensures improved oversight, enhanced operational understanding and optimised efficiency for power generation solutions.

GE Imagination at Work


[i] World Bank

[ii] Asian Development Bank (ADB), Myanmar, Energy Sector Assessment, Strategy, and Road Map

[iii] International Energy Agency (IEA) Electricity Information 2018

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