Minister calls for policy change in power sector to address outages

A regional minister on Tuesday underscored the need to revamp the country’s energy policy in order to address the perennial problem of power outages, especially during the summer months when the demand for electricity soars.

Mandalay Region Electricity, Energy and Construction Minister U Zarni Aung apologised to the people for the frequent blackouts over the past two months as these are caused by insufficient power supply.

“In terms of electricity policy, there are two points that need to be addressed: its availability and its cost,” he said.

He said the country needs to produce a “base load demand” of about 2500 megawatts (MW).

“The main power generation source of our country is hydropower, but the amount of water is not adequate as the amount of rain was low last year. So we have to await the next rainy season,” said U Zarni Aung.

“This shows that hydropower generation is not reliable. It depends on the weather. So we need to improve the generation system,” he added.

The minister noted that water levels in major dams have dropped by about 4.2 metres on average this year compared with 2018.

He added that the country’s 28 gas turbines and one coal power plant are already operating 24 hours a day to provide electricity.

“The full production of electricity stands at about 1460MW currently. We used over 3800MW in March. The total power consumption exceeded 4000 MW. It’s almost 4600 MW at present,” U Zarni Aung said.

He noted that the lowest power consumption is and 1am and the demand starts to increase starting at 6am. The peak time is between 10am and 11am, before dropping from noon or 1pm. At 5pm, the demand surges again.

“It seems people start using electricity as soon as they get back home from work. From there the consumption starts to rise, and it’s the highest between 7.30pm and 8pm. So the required amount has to be supplied by hydropower stations,” said U Zarni Aung.

The monsoon begins on May 15 in Yangon but it only fully sets in on June 15 all over the country. He said monsoon rain must come by June 15 as some of the water in the country’s dams is used for agricultural purposes.

“It’s also our responsibility to provide the people with round-the-clock electricity, especially during the summer months and we are trying our best. There are some tasks that can’t be directly managed by Union Ministry. Trading of electricity in the private sectors is beyond the scope of the regional government,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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