Myanmar’s government is planning to double its electric power capacity by 2021 and is choosing gas-fired power as a means of bridging its significant energy gap.

Reuters reports that with only one-third of the country’s 60 million people connected to the electrical grid and cities experiencing blackouts, Myanmar needs to boost its power supply to attract much-needed foreign investment.
However, experts cautioned that it remains to be seen how the government would strike power purchase agreements with the investors.

Four gas-fired power plants would be built by 2021 at a total cost of $5.16bn in several parts of Myanmar, said two officials from Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

They said the plants will raise generation capacity by 3,100 MW and would double the current capacity of around 3,000 MW.

Myanmar’s government has signed agreements to “start preliminary engineering work,” such as environmental assessments, with six companies, including TOTAL, Siemens AG , Zhefu Holding, TTCL Public Company Ltd , Sinohydro Corporation and Myanmar-based Supreme Trading.

The four plants will be in areas including the western state of Rakhine and Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon, with the government purchasing electricity from the six firms.

Myanmar is in talks with the individual companies to work out the power purchase agreements. The plants would mostly use imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Wa Than Oo, an analyst from Myanmar Energy Monitor, said the projects are “ambitious in scope” but there are uncertainties.

“There have been negative experiences in the past where electricity generation projects have been announced but no power purchase agreement has been signed, and as a result they haven’t been built.”