MANILA, PHILIPPINES - An initial assessment of Myanmar's energy sector by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) shows the country has a wealth of possibilities for power generation, from oil and gas exploration to harnessing the energy of geothermal and other renewables, but lacks the capital needed to develop it.

"Myanmar's energy sector has suffered from decades of under-investment, and only one in four people currently have electricity access," said Anthony Jude, Director of the Energy Division in ADB's Southeast Asia Department. "As Myanmar continues to open up there is a remarkable opportunity to utilize domestic energy resources to power the country's development, but it's essential that strong, enforceable environmental and social safeguards be firmly in place."

Myanmar's current per capita electricity consumption is amongst the lowest in Asia. Approximately two-thirds of primary energy in Myanmar is supplied by biomass, such as fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural residue and animal waste. Electrification rates range from 67% in Yangon to as little as 16% in rural areas.

While Myanmar has huge potential energy resources, particularly hydropower and natural gas, the assessment notes that their development has been hampered by limited capital; a lack of qualified personnel; poor legal and regulatory frameworks; and a lack of coordination and planning among seven energy-related ministries.

The assessment suggests that international investment in Myanmar's energy sector could focus on medium- and long-term planning; rehabilitation works in power generation, transmission, and distribution; and the construction of gas power plants in Yangon; the construction of a 500kV transmission line from the north to Yangon; an integrated, comprehensive plan for hydropower development; and the rehabilitation and upgrading of coal and gas-fired generation plants, refineries, and natural gas pipelines.

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