A worker walks past solar photovoltaic cells at a solar power plant in western Ukraine.The biggest solar power plant in the country will start producing an estimated 20 megawatts of electricity next week, a senior official of the Magwe regional government said.

The solar plant, on 800 acres of land between Zee Ain and Lay Pin villages on the Minbu-Ann road, will distribute the 20MW via the Mann sub-power station in Minbu township.

The solar project – which was approved in March 2016 during the government of president U Thein Sein and began construction in February 2018 – is part of the government’s renewable energy programme.

A study is being carried out in Chauk, Mindon and Minhla townships to build a wind power station, which is expected to be operational by 2021. The power it produces will be distributed across the country via the national grid.

These are the biggest renewable energy projects in Myanmar. Up to 170MW will be produced by solar power and more than 260 MW by wind power.

The solar energy project is being carried out with Green Earth Power (Myanmar) Co. The wind energy project is being carried out under an April 2017 agreement with Singapore’s Infra Capital Myanmar-ReEx Co. The contract was extended in 2018.

“Solar energy costs around K190 per unit, but it cannot be changed as the contract was signed under the previous government,” said Magwe Regional Minister of Planning, Finance and Development U Zaw Min. “The next step is to re-negotiate the price. As wind energy only became feasible recently, we can negotiate the price.

Energy production of over 30MW needs the approval of the government. Below 30MW, and it is up to regional and state governments.

Previously, experts estimated that if the production of 3300MW in 2018 is increased by 15 percent, it would be enough to cover the dry season. But as the increase was only 130MW, the blackouts continue.

To meet energy demand, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy asked the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union) to approve a loan from France for the maintenance costs of hydropower plants.

About 70pc of Myanmar’s energy production comes from hydropower, 28pc is from natural gas and 2pc from coal, according to the ministry.

Almost half of the electricity generated in Myanmar is consumed by Yangon Region, while Mandalay uses 18pc. The government has set a goal of electrification for the whole country by 2030.