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Power plant fuelled by rubbish comes online in Rangoon

A worker smiles for the camera at a newly operational waste incineration power plant in Rangoon on 7 April 2017. (Photo: DVB)

Rangoon’s first power plant to turn waste into energy was christened in the commercial capital on Friday.

Rangoon divisional government officials including Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein, local parliamentarians, Japan’s ambassador to Burma and officials from the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation attended an opening ceremony for the plant. The project was carried out jointly by the Yangon City Development Committee and Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corporation.

Fuelled by the incineration of waste, the $16 million power plant is a landmark Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) initiative. The JCM helps developed nations such as Japan achieve their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by transferring low-carbon technologies to developing countries.

The Rangoon plant has a capacity to incinerate 60 tonnes of garbage per day, out of an estimated 2,300 tonnes of waste produced daily in the capital, almost all of which ends up in landfills. Backers of the project are touting its ability to simultaneously generate electricity and reduce environmental pollution.

The plant will generate a total of 700 kilowatts of electricity, with 300 kilowatts going toward its operational needs and the remaining 400 distributed through the national grid. It was built on Hlawga Road in Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Township.

The opening of the trash-fuelled power plant comes as energy-starved Burma gears up for the time of year when the country’s power supply feels its greatest strain: The end of the dry season — meaning hydro-electric dams are at their lowest production capacity — happens to coincide with an annual peak in temperatures, kicking air conditioners across the country into overdrive.