Solar To Help Power Myanmar

Solar power will provide Burma (Myanmar) with up to 12 per cent of its electricity needs after U.S. officials and private equity fund ACO Investment Group signed an agreement with Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power to build two 150 MW solar plants in the nation’s Manderlay region. 
  
With a combined value of $480 million, the solar projects are a first for the impoverished nation, which relies heavily on hydropower for its electricity requirements. Convalt Energy, a subsidiary of ACO, will construct the facilities. 
  
ACO Group said it expects the two projects to create 400 local construction jobs for the Manderlay community, with an additional 100 permanent positions once the plants are operational. Once completed in 2016, the combined 300 MW solar plants will account for 10 – 12 per cent of Myanmar’s power generation.
 
Part of the trade pact between the company and government officials will see Convalt Energy engage in a corporate responsibility program; improving roads, training local employees and building libraries at nearby schools. 
  
The U.S. Trade Department said the deal will benefit both nations by creating jobs for Myanmar’s citizens and expanding U.S. exports of solar products.
  
“Efforts like these support the ambitious definition of development that is at the heart of President Obama’s trade agenda,” said U.S. Ambassador Michael Froman at a signing ceremony for the solar projects. “By promoting trade and investment, we are unlocking even more opportunities for workers and businesses in both countries that promote not only higher incomes at home and around the world, but also driving sustainable development.”
  
The agreement also signals the relaxing of economic tensions between America and Myanmar. In 2012, the U.S. lifted trade sanctions against the military rule of then President Thein Sein, who began a democratic process that elected opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament after 15 years of house arrest.