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Clean, Affordable Decentralized Energy Options -- Burma. Chris Greacen Palang Thai MEE-Net Seminar on Energy in Burma 24 Jan 2011 Chiang Mai. Outline. Intro to energy Energy history World energy situation Renewable energy Burma Default scenarios For revenue: Mega dams, gas exports

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Clean, Affordable Decentralized Energy Options -- Burma

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Clean, Affordable Decentralized Energy Options -- Burma

Chris Greacen

Palang Thai

MEE-Net Seminar on Energy in Burma

24 Jan 2011

Chiang Mai


  • Intro to energy

    • Energy history

    • World energy situation

    • Renewable energy

  • Burma

    • Default scenarios

    • For revenue: Mega dams, gas exports

    • For electrification: dam & diesel generation, likely power imports from Thailand

  • Addressing the Thai side

    • Removing bias in load forecasting

    • Consider clean, decentralized options on level playing field

  • Addressing the Burma side

    • Some clean community energy options


  • Intro to world energy

    • Energy history

    • World energy situation

  • Burma energy situation

    • Energy exports to Thailand

    • Energy for domestic use

  • Renewable energy

    • For village-scale applications

    • For sale to main grid

  • Addressing the Burma side

    • Some clean community energy options

History of Human Energy Use

China, water-powered trip hammer, Han Dynasty CA 200 BC

Watt steam engine ca. 1775

Benz automobile ca. 1886

Edison Pearl Street Station - first electric distribution system, 1882

Oil well, Pennsylvania, 1861

The rise of global dependence on fossil fuels

World primary energy supply, 1850-2000

Hydro+ means hydropower plus other renewables besides biomass

Coal drove growth 1850-1950; oil & gas drove it (2x faster) 1950-2000

In the USA…

Current world energy system - the positive

  • Cheap

  • Convenient

  • Mature technologies

Current world energy system - the negative

  • oil dependence

    • price volatility, developing country debt, resource conflict

  • carbon emissions

    • climate change

  • growth in consumption

  • Unequal distribution

    • of consumption and impacts

Current Energy System in a Nutshell

  • Those “upwind, upstream, and uptime” enjoy convenient services at artificially low prices.

  • Those “downwind, downstream, and downtime” face the consequences

Where we’re at

  • progress is slow toward alternatives

    • fossil fuels 90% in 1980, 86% in 2005

  • change is difficult to achieve

    • consumption habits, prices don’t reflect externalities, vested interests

  • time is short for transforming the system

    • already happening: climate change, oil wars, energy poverty, debt crises

Masters & Randolph, 2008

No Technological “Silver Bullet”

  • oil and gas: not enough resources

  • coal:not enough atmosphere

  • biomass:not enough land

  • hydropower & wind:not enough sites

  • nuclear fission:too unforgiving

  • nuclear fusion:too difficult

  • Solar :too expensive

  • hydrogen:not a “source”: needs energy to produce it

  • end-use efficiency:needs end-users who are paying attention

From John P. Holdren, “The Energy Innovation Imperative,” 2006

Elements of a solution

  • Sustainable energy technologies

  • Change markets

  • Change consumption behavior

  • Change policies

  • Change institutions

Sustainable energy technologies

  • Renewable Energy: making use of flows of energy that are naturally replaced (wind, sun, biomass)

Problems for renewables

  • Cost

  • Technical maturity

  • Technical fit

  • Geographic mismatch

  • Limits to renewability

World Wind Energy Growth

Source: World Wind Energy Association

World Biofuel Growth



Energy situation in Burma (?)

  • Energy shortages

    • blackouts, fuel rationing

  • High energy costs

  • High human suffering from impacts of large energy projects

    • Large hydro

    • Gas

  • Unequal distribution of energy, of impacts

Big hydro – for export to Thailand & domestic use

  • Used to make:

    • 6% of Thailand’s electricity,

    • 60% of Burma’s electricity (most dams are in ethnic minority areas)

  • Consensus: no more big dams will be built in Thailand.

    • Limited sites left in Thailand

    • Strong environmental opposition…

    • “Build in Burma instead!!!”

  • Environmental issues

    • Inundation

    • Fish killed

    • Global warming

    • Changes in temperature / sediment loading / flow regime

  • Can be cheap

    • If reasonably close to load centers


7,000 MW


600 MW

Upper Salween

4,000 MW

Lower Salween

500 MW

Hut Gyi

1,200 MW


720 MW

Planned megadams to export electricity to Thailand

Natural gas

  • Used to make 71% of Thailand’s electricity (among highest in world)

    • 1/3 of gas used in Thailand comes from Burma

    • 20% of our (Thai) electricity bills pay for Burmese gas

  • Single largest source of revenue to Burmese military government

    • Accounts for fully half of Burma’s exports in 2006

    • US$2.16 billion to junta from Thailand.

    • Total, Chevron, PTTEP, Petronas, Nippon Oil, etc.

Source: Burma: Foreign Investment Finances Regime. Human Rights Watch. 2007.

Rural electrification - Burma

  • In 2008, 42.8 Million of Burma’s 58.82 million population lived without electricity.

  • Goal: electrification rates to 60% by 2020.


Sell electricity to Thailand cheap,buy back expensive

1 baht/kWh

8 baht/kWh

2 baht/kWh

Can we imagine something different?

Saving electricity is cheaper than generating it

Demand Side Management (saving electricity)


Actual 10-year DSM average cost!!!

Source: The World Bank (1993)

The Arun-3 story

  • Planned 201 MW hydro in Nepal

  • Sell electricity to India, rural electrification

  • Nepalese NGOs and small business:“Micro-hydropower cheaper, better for local economy”

  • World Bank pulled out of project, project cancelled

  • 10 years later…the Nepali power system has seen the addition of:

    • over a 1/3 more capacity than the Arun-3

    • at ½ the cost

    • In ½ the time it would have taken to complete Arun-3

Renewable energy fuels and uses

1. Village and household scale2. National scale (connecting to national grid)


Efficient Charcoal


Source: Inversin, A. R. (1986). Micro-Hydropower Sourcebook.

Hydraulic ram pump

Hydraulic ram pump

Community micro-hydro

  • Mae Kam Pong village, Chiang Mai

  • 1x40 kW; 2x20 kW

  • Community cooperative

  • Sells electricity to the national grid

Solar cooking


LED lighting and 0.5-5W solar panels, coupled with microfinance energy loans, can end kerosene lighting

Barefoot Power is a social enterprise delivering such solutions

Solar home systems

  • 25,000 baht per household system

  • 120 watts

  • Electricity for 2 lights + TV

Thai solar home systems

203,000 solar home systems

Sustainability challenge

Ruggedized solar electric systems built by Karen medics in 3-5 day hands-on trainings

  • 7 trainings (2003-2007)

  • >90 medics trained

  • 35 clinics

Solar for computer training centers in seven Karen refugee camps

  • 1 kW PV hybrid with diesel generator

  • Each powers 12 computers

Bangkok Solar 1 MW PV

  • Project size: 1 MW

  • Uses self-manufactured a-Si

Solar water heating

Biogas for cookingKatchin State, Burma

Biogas from Pig Farms

Reduces air and water pollution

Produces fertilizer

Produces electricity

8 x 70 kW generator


Biogas from Pig Farms

Uses waste water from cassava to make methane

Produces gas for all factory heat (30 MW thermal) + 3 MW of electricity

3 x 1 MW gas generators

Korat Waste to Energy – biogas… an early Thai VSPP project

Biomass Gasification

Rice mill in Nakorn Sawan

400 kW

Gasifierelectricity from wood

Rice husk-fired power plant

9.8 MW

Roi Et, Thailand

Technical regulations:

Allowable voltage, frequency, THD variations

Protective relays

1-line diagrams for all cases:





Connecting at different voltage levels (LV or MV)

Communication channels

Commercial regulations:

Definitions of renewable energy, and efficient cogeneration

Cost allocation

Principle of standardized tariff determination

Invoicing and payment arrangements



+ Standardized Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

Evolution of Thai VSPP regulations

  • 2002

    • VSPP regulations drafted, approved by Cabinet

    • Up to 1 MW export, renewables only

    • Tariffs set at avoided cost (bulk supply tariff + FT)

  • 2006

    • Up to 10 MW export, renewables + cogeneration

    • Feed-in tariff “adder”

    • If > 1 MW then utility only pays for 98% of energy

  • 2009

    • Tariff adder increase, more for projects that offset diesel for English version of regulations, and model PPA

Thai VSPP feed-in tariff adders

Assumes exchange rate 1 Thai baht = 0.029762 U.S. dollars

Tariff = adder(s) + bulk supply tariff + FT charge

Biomass tariff = $0.009 + $0.049 + $0.027 = $0.085/kWh

July 2010

PPAs signed for additional 4283 MW

847 MW online

Thailand VSPP Status

Decentralized generation

  • Decentralized generation: generation of electricity near where it is used

Old way

New way

Power plant

Power plant


Wind power




Energy efficient end-use

Energy waste in a typical pumping system

Sankey Energy Flow Diagram

CogenerationCombined Heat and Power (CHP)

Thank you

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