China and Thailand are interested in investing in hydropower projects in the Thanlwin River, said a senior official from the Ministry of Electric Power’s Department of Hydropower Implementation on March 20.
“They [China and Thailand] are interested because they are worried about future electricity demand. Due to increasing populations and development, the production rate cannot meet the consumption rate of electricity in these countries,” he said.
There are six hydropower projects scheduled to be implemented in the Thanlwin River. In northern Shan state there is the 1400 megawatt (MW) Kounloan project, 1000 MW Noungpha, 200 MW Manthaung and 7110 MW Mountone projects.
Additionally there is the 4000 MW Yourthit project in Kayar state and the 1360 MW Hatgyi proect in Kayin state.
“It is just at the research stage. There are so many stages that need to be done in order to implement a hydropower project. But some people think we are starting and they want to protest against the projects for the sake of environment,” he said.
Chinese companies Hanergy Holding Group Ltd, Hydrochina Corporation, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), China Datang Overseas Investment Co, Ltd (CDOI) and Sinohydro Corporation have each signed a Memorandum of Understanding with local companies.
Thailand’s EGAT International (EGATI) is interested in a build operate transfer agreement with a local company and has already signed an MoU with local companies and investors.
Thailand has begun to worry about its long term future power sources after it was announced on March 6 that the Yadana offshore block will stop exporting gas to Thailand from April 4 to 15 for some maintenance work, the official said.
“If we have no plan management to uncover the public for SIA and EIA, we will not continue the projects. This is a new era and everything will go on very openly and we will listen to what the people say,” he said.
There have been rumours that the excess water from the dams would flow to Thailand, causing activists from the country to demand the projects be cancelled.
The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Electric Power, U Myint Zaw, said at the sixth regular sectional meeting of the first Pyithu Hluttaw that the rumours are not true.