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Hydropower Sector

Hydropower has enormous potential as a renewable energy source. Spectrum's view is that pico, micro and small scale hydropower (less than 10MW) on tributary rivers, offer much to assist Myanmar's development.

Various studies and guidelines provide insight needed for the industry. These include:

  • The World Commission of Dams (WCD) Report

  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recommendations on the WCD report 

  • The International Hydropower Association Sustainability Assessment Protocol guidelines

  • The Oxford study on large scale dams.

Despite all this guidance, previous hydropower energy projects in Myanmar have been mired with a lack of transparency, human rights abuse issues, land loss issues, inadequate compensation for those affected, no perceived benefits for local people and increased militarisation in project areas. Most of the negative impacts are borne by ethnic groups. Are hydropower energy access implementation projects like this really a reflection of development?

Spectrum's recommendations for the sector include support for:

  • Pico and small scale hydropower projects (Ie. from very small, up to 10 MW), the manufacturing industry to support this and service industries to implement and maintain the small scale hydropower sector
  • Only hydropower renewable energy projects that meet the various best practice guidelines established over the last two decades, based on learning and problems recognised elsewhere. 

  • "Socially and environmentally acceptable hydropower developments". Such projects should meet minimum necessary standards of community consultation, cultural acceptability, FPIC and environmental assessment. In the affected basins, environmental and socio-economic baseline studies are needed to recognise the complexity of Myanmar's society, livelihood systems and mainstream basins.

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