New Delhi (Mizzima) – Solar power is being used by many people in rural areas in Burma, where electricity is not available.
Shops selling solar power plates in some townships said that more and more people are using solar power than before in Irrawaddy and Pegu Divisions, Kachin, Chin and Kayah States in Burma.
“Solar power is essential in non-electric fed areas. Sale of solar power sets has been brisk for the last two years,” a marketing executive, who has been working in the solar power sector and its accessories for over 10 years told Mizzima.
The owner of ‘Zaw’ solar power showroom in Pakkoku city, Magwe Township and a solar power user himself said, “I use solar power as an alternative power source when electricity supply is irregular during the day. I use a 25 watt solar power source for charging mobile phones and lighting four to five florescent lamps”.
In Pokokku, electricity supply is available in rotation so that even consumers of electricity have to use solar power.
A 2’x4’ solar power plate costs over Kyat 1 million depending on the country of origin. Most solar power plates are imported from China, Japan and India. China makes 1’x1.5’ size solar power plates costing only Kyat 30,000, which lasts nearly five years, solar power showroom sales personnel said.
Many consumers use cheap Chinese made solar power plates and battery.
For home use, solar power plates and accessories such as battery, step-up transformers and wires cost up to Kyat 1.8 million, sales personnel of the ‘Myanmar Solar Power’ showroom in Hlaing Township, Rangoon Division said.
Fully charged 360 watt solar plates can be used for about one day to run television, a video player and 3’ to 2’ size florescent lamps simultaneously.
“The users need to invest one time, and there are no recurring costs. Japanese solar power units have a 10-year guarantee. It’s more economical than generators in areas with no electric supply,” a salesman at a solar power showroom in Hlaing Township said.
There are at least 10 solar power showrooms in Rangoon, it is learnt.
A official from a Development Centre affiliated to the ‘Kachin Baptist Christian’ (KBC) said that they were still using a solar power unit that was installed at his ‘Cart Centre’ five years back, situated 18 miles from Myitkyina even though electricity is available.
“The KBC installed solar power in three places in Myitkyina. At Shalom and Cart Centre, they use it during power blackouts. We use solar power to run one computer and three 2’ size florescent lamps,” he said.
But for those who want to use a computer, refrigerator, TV and a VCD player have to buy a 100 watt solar power plate, it is learnt.
Solar power is eco friendly with no noise pollution as generators. It is easier to maintain with no risks of short circuits and fire, users said.
“There’s no problem if you connect in the correct polarity. If not, the florescent lamps will burn. There are no other dangers. For full recharge, the user needs to remove dust deposited on the plate,” a solar power user in Pakokku said.
Solar power users generally install solar power plates on rooftops for better concentration of the sun’s rays but some install them on the ground for easier maintenance.
Burma has over 50 million people and over 70 percent of them live in rural areas. Most of these rural people are farmers.
A high ranking official of Director rank from the No. 1 Ministry of Energy in Naypyitaw told Mizzima that they have started construction of seven hydro electric power projects which will have an installed capacity of 10,000 MW upstream of Irrawaddy River in collaboration with Chinese companies.
“The project area is in upper Myitkyina. We have completed survey work and are now into survey. The project will take 10 years to complete. The 10,000 MW-capacity is more than enough for consumption in Burma and the surplus power can be sold to foreign countries,” he said.
Burma is constructing mega hydro power projects in Htamanthi in Sagaing Division in upper Burma, Hatgyi and Tasang in Shan State, Nam Kok on the Thai-Burma border in Tanintharyi Division in collaboration with neighbouring countries like Thailand, China and India.
It is learnt that despite lack of direct assistance by the Energy Ministry for solar power users in Burma, it provides necessary assistance in these projects when there are donor countries.
“Our department acts as intermediaries when there is some donor country like Thailand. But we mainly engage in oil and gas. These projects are being undertaken by private companies, an official in the Energy Ministry in Naypyitaw said.
Nyein Chan Win, Director of ‘Myanmar Eco Solution’, said the use of solar power in Burma will continue now since power generation and power supply is not yet adequate in the country.
“In the long run, there will be more use of solar power in non-electric fed areas as a sustainable power source,” he said.
In Burma, solar rays are available for an average of eight hours a day so solar power can be widely used, Nyein Chan Win said.