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Myanmar Sectors

What is Myanmarʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Power sector in 2030

Myanmar’s NDC has set targets for the country’s power sector.38 Under the BAU scenario a four-fold increase of total installed capacity is forecasted between 2020 and 2030 (from 6 to 24 GW), with coal accounting for 44% of new capacity. This would be a massive expansion of the country’s coal-fired power stations, from 120 to 7940 MW over the stated period. Coal capacity sees large increases even under the unconditional and conditional NDC scenarios (3620 and 2120 MW in 2030 respectively).39

Natural gas’ capacity, 3031 MW in 2020, is forecast to increase by 57% under BAU and double under both of the NDC scenarios. Fossil fuels, which accounted for 53% of total capacity in 2020 would continue to hold this share of capacity in 2030 under BAU and the unconditional NDC. Under the conditional NDC, this share would decrease to 45%. Regardless of the scenario, fossil fuels are forecast to account for a large part of new capacity built between 2020-2030, from 41-54%.

Fossil fuel expansion has high up-front investment costs and would put the country at high risk of being locked in to a carbon intensive pathway. In contrast, 1.5°C compatible pathways show a phase-out of coal by 2030 and gas around the mid-2030s.

All scenarios, including BAU, forecast a large increase in wind and solar with hydro expected to remain the main source of renewable power.1 One should note that Myanmar already faces challenges due to its reliance on hydropower: from blackouts during dry seasons, to social and environmental issues arising from the construction of these projects.13-15 It is estimated that the country has potential for 4032 MW of wind, but has yet to develop this resource. The country has one grid-scale solar project, the 170 MW Minbu Solar Power Plant, which will, upon completion, deliver 0.35 TWh/yr of power. This may be compared to the estimated 51,973 TWh/yr of solar potential in the country.9 Both the NDC’s conditional and unconditional 2030 targets would utilise only a fraction of the country’s vast renewable resources. By focusing on their renewable energy resources, Myanmar could realise greater emissions reductions, and at the same time avoid carbon lock-in and other risks from further fossil fuel investments.8

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

Under 1.5°C pathways emissions from Myanmar’s power sector are expected to decline 61-64% by 2030, relative to 2015. Power sector emissions have however increased dramatically in recent years: 136% between 2015 and 2019. Both the amount of power generation and emissions intensity of the sector have increased, 52% and 56% respectively, between 2015 and 2019. The increase in intensity is largely due to the fact that natural gas has accounted for 62% of the increase in generation over these years.

The majority of 1.5°C compatible pathways analysed here see power generation increasing.40 Under the median of pathways, total power generation will increase 40% from 2019 levels by 2030 and triple by 2050. This will be counterbalanced by a sharp decrease in emissions intensity, which will fall to around 10% of its 2019 value by 2030 (from 470 to between 40-50 gCO₂/kWh) and reach net zero between 2035-2036.

By 2030, 1.5°C compatible pathways have renewables (including both variable and conventional) making up at least half of the power mix and accounting for the entirety of power generation by 2040. This may reflect the historic significance of hydropower in Myanmar’s power generation mix. However, much like the two NDC scenarios, there will likely be a ramp up of variable renewables from their less than 1% share in generation in 2019.41 The conditional NDC has variable renewables contributing over 16% to power generation by 2030.

1 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Nationally Determined Contributions. (2021).

2 FAOSTAT. FAOSTAT Statistical Database. (2022).

3 FAO. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. (2020).

4 Liu, J. & Wallace, R. Climate danger grows in ‘vulnerable’ Myanmar after military coup. Al Jazeera (2021).

5 Associated Press. EU sanctions target major Myanmar energy company. DW (2022).

6 Associated Press. 2 big energy firms exit Myanmar over human rights abuses by the military government. NPR (2022).

7 Battersby, A. Myanmar vows to accelerate energy projects. Upstream (2022).

8 Viktor Tachev. The Risks of the Myanmar LNG Pipeline. Energy Tracker Asia (2022).

9 International Trade Administration. Burma – Energy. (2022).

10 Climate Analytics. Decarbonising South and South East Asia. (2019).

11 MOEE. NEP Plan. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Electricity and Energy. (2022).

12 IEA. Myanmar National Electrification Project (NEP). IEA/IRENA Renewables Policies Database. (2017).

13 International Finance Corporation. Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Myanmar Hydropower Sector. (2018).

14 Bo, M. Myanmar on brink of economic collapse one year after military coup. DW (2022).

15 Aung, T. S., Fischer, T. B. & Azmi, A. S. Are large-scale dams environmentally detrimental? Life-cycle environmental consequences of mega-hydropower plants in Myanmar. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 25, 1749–1766 (2020).

16 The World Bank. Urban Transport in Yangon and Mandalay: Review of Sector Institutions, Expenditures, and Funding. (2020).

17 Asian Development Bank. Myanmar Transport Sector Policy Note – Urban Transport. (2016).

18 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar Energy Master Plan. (2015).

19 Frontier. Pledges but no progress as military neglects environment. Frontier Myanmar (2022).

20 Htoon, K. L. Government regulations put the brakes on cattle exports. Frontier Myanmar (2020).

21 Myint, T. China-Myanmar border trade: Case study on live cattle trade of Myanmar. (2022).

22 The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – INDC. (2015).

23 Lynn, K. Y. Plans for wind power from Chinese firm fall apart in Myanmar. China Dialogue (2020).

24 IRENA. Energy Profile – Myanmar. (2021).

25 MOEE & ERIA. Myanmar Energy Outlook 2020. (2020).

26 Eckstein, D., Künzel, V. & Schäfer, L. Global climate risk index 2021. (2021).

27 Both the State Administration Council (SAC), the military junta currently governing Myanmar, and the National Unity Government (NUG), the government in exile, submitted NDCs in July 2021. Both documents are nearly identical. The SAC aims to achieve a conditional target for total emissions reduction of 415 MtCO₂e (including LULUCF) over the period 2021 to 2030 (with an unconditional target of 245 MtCO₂e reduction). The NUG aims for 413 MtCO₂e reduction conditionally, 244 MtCO₂e reduction unconditionally, both including LULUCF and over the period 2021-2030.19 In this profile, we analyse the NDC officially submitted to the UNFCCC.

28 See assumptions and calculations here

29 Global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C tend to include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches, and often rely on rather conservative assumptions in the development of renewable energy technologies. This tends to result in greater reliance on technological CDR than if a faster transition to renewables were achieved. The scenarios available at the time of this analysis focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology, and our downscaling methods do not yet take national BECCS potentials into account.

30 For further information, please see Global Forest Watch.

31 Given that the NDC has emissions for agriculture accounting for 32.1% of the total in 2013, rice cultivation and enteric fermentation would account for 37% and 28% of the sectoral total respectively. Data from the FAO confirms that rice cultivation and enteric fermentation are the main components of agricultural emissions, accounting for around 72% of emissions from this sector currently. The share from these two drivers has decreased slightly from 77% in 1990. At the same time, enteric fermentation’s share has increased while that of rice cultivation has decreased over the period from 1990. This may be a consequence of increased cattle exports after the government lifted a ban on this trade in October 2017.20,21 For further details on agricultural exports see Myanmar’s OEC country page.

32 Values taken from the World Bank. Total fossil fuel rents amounted to 3.5% and 2.7% of GDP in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Other sources have the oil and gas sector contributing 3.4% of GDP in 2017-18.

33 The rural electrification targets are forecast to provide power, through mini-grids, to 1.8 million (unconditional) to 3.6 million (conditional) people. This is presumably in line with earlier targets for the per household electrification rate (45% by 2020-21, 60% by 2025-26, and 80% by 2030) given in the country’s previous NDC submission.22

34 This being the difference between cumulative reductions (2021-2030) under the higher bound of the 1.5ºC compatible range and the that under the conditional NDC. Using the lower bound of the 1.5°C compatible range and the unconditional NDC, the gap would be 265 MtCO₂e.

35 Energy-related GHG emissions increased from 9.4 MtCO₂e/yr in 2010 to 23.6 MtCO₂e/yr in 2019, an increase of 150%.

36 Oil’s contribution to primary energy increased from 54 PJ/yr in 2010 to 295 PJ/yr in 2019. Its share in the energy mix grew from 9% to 30% over this period.

37 Unabated fossil fuels supplied 498 PJ/yr in 2019, around half of the country’s TPES that year. The other half was supplied by variable and conventional renewables. Of renewable energy, around 90% is from hydropower.24 Under the median of the 1.5°C pathways, unabated fossil fuels energy supply 232 PJ/yr in 2035 and 111 in PJ/yr. While unabated fossil fuels share in TPES would drop only slightly by 2030 (to 45%), by 2050 their share would drop to 13%. Note that unabated fossil fuel supply has increased drastically between 2015 and 2019. In 2015, they supplied 285 PJ/yr and contribute a 36% share to TPES. The increase is largely driven by a greater supply of oil. See the IEA’s Myanmar country page for further details.

38 These are in line with previous energy policy and electricity planning documents. For example, the BAU scenario in the NDC is taken from the country’s 2014 National Electricity Master Plan.

39 The NDC does state that coal will not increase beyond 2030 and be phased out by 2050. However, the government sees natural gas’ role in the energy mix as being more dependent on the ability to scale up renewable generation capacity.1

40 The exemption being the pathway that assumes low energy demand.

41 For a breakdown of Myanmar’s renewable capacity and generation, please see the IRENA’s country profile.

42 The residential sector accounted for, on average, around 80% of total final consumption between 1990 and 2010. In 2019, this dropped to 55% as other sectors, particularly industry and transport, have seen increased consumption. Biomass has historically accounted for 98% of final energy in the buildings sector (average 1990 to 2015). Biomass’ share has fallen since 2015 and was 87% in 2019. See the IEA’s Myanmar country page for further details.

43 As of 2018. See the IRENA’s country profile. As noted in the country’s 2015 Energy Master Plan, in 2012, rural household lighting accounted for around 0.3% of total household energy consumption while rural cooking accounted for 86%.18

44 Note that Myanmar’s rural population makes up 70% of the total.1

45 Specifically, the government intends to distribute 5.1 million improved fuelwood cook stoves and additionally promote the replacement of wood cook stoves by LPG based cooking technology across 1 million households by 2030. The distribution of improved fuelwood cook stoves is estimated to result in a cumulative emissions reduction of 12.99 MtCO₂e over the period 2021-2030. Of this, 21% will go towards the country’s NDC emission reduction target. The switch to LPG cook-stoves is estimated to result in 14.94 MtCO₂e avoided emissions over the period 2021-2030.

46 Oil consumption in the building sector grew from 0.09 to 20 PJ/yr between 2015 and 2019. Its share in the sector’s final energy increased from 0.02% to 4% over that period.

47 This is part of the NDC’s overall conditional energy efficiency target of a 20% improvement from 2012 levels by 2030.

48 Industrial gross value added contributed 38% to GDP in 2019, up from 25.6% in 2010. Over the same period, industrial final energy consumption’s share of the total increased from 10% to 19%.

49 Oil consumption increased from 9.6 PJ/yr in 2010 to 94.6 PJ/yr in 2019. Over the same time, total final energy consumption in industry increased from 53.5 PJ/yr to 160 PJ/yr. Oil thus accounted for around 80% of consumption growth.

50 The energy consumption reduction target is also at odds with forecasts put forth in the 2015 Energy Master Plan. That document projected that industrial final energy consumption would increase at an annual growth rate of 11.6% under a “medium” scenario where the country’s GDP would grow at 7.1% per year over this time.18 More recently, a report by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia found that under BAU, industry’s final energy consumption would grow from 5.7 Mtoe in 2016 to around 10 Mtoe by 2030 and above 15 Mtoe by 2040. Under scenarios which assume a higher energy efficiency or lower GDP, industry’s 2040 consumption would be between 10 and 15 Mtoe.25

51 The 2015 Energy Master Plan notes that offshore natural gas production and export had been the largest driver of economic growth in the decade leading up to 2012.18

52 Myanmar’s 2015 Energy Master Plan notes the linear relationship between motorisation and GDP/capita and anticipates that this relationship will hold through the planning period out to 2035.18

53 According to the Department of Road Transport Administration, between 2010 and 2019, the number of registered vehicles in the city increased from 261 thousand to 913 thousand. Motorcycles accounted for 46% of this increase while cars accounted for 28%. Busses, on the other hand, only accounted for 1% of the increase.

54 Note that transport sector emissions saw a sharp decline in 2008 likely due to the devastation caused by tropical cyclone Nargis. The increasing frequency of such events has made Myanmar one of the most highly impacted countries by climate change.1,26

55 A more recent report by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia also forecasts transport energy consumption to more than double between 2016 and 2040 and continue to rely heavily on oil products, but with natural gas playing a more prominent role.25

Myanmarʼs power mix

terawatt-hour per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
SSP1 High CDR reliance
Low energy demand
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Myanmarʼs power sector emissions and carbon intensity


  • Historical emissions
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • 100%RE
  • Low energy demand

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Myanmar

Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
40 to 50
2035 to 2036
Relative to reference year in %
−92 to −90%
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Share of unabated gas
7 to 8
2035 to 2036
Share of renewable energy
91 to 92
Share of unabated fossil fuel
8 to 9


Demand shifting towards the power sector

The 1.5°C compatible pathways analysed here tend to show a strong increase in power generation and installed capacities across time. This is because end-use sectors (such as transport, buildings or industry) are increasingly electrified under 1.5°C compatible pathways, shifting energy demand to the power sector. Globally, the “high energy demand” pathway entails a particularly high degree of renewable energy-based electrification across the various sectors, and sees a considerable increase in renewable energy capacities over time. See the power section for capacities deployment under the various models.

Myanmarʼs renewable electricity investments

Billion USD / yr


Yearly investment requirements in renewable energy

Across the set of 1.5°C pathways that we have analysed, annual investments in renewable energy excluding BECCS increase in Myanmar to be on the order of USD 0.6 to 2.3 billion by 2030 and 0.5 to 3.3 billion by 2040 depending on the scenario considered. The ‘high energy demand, low CDR reliance’ pathway shows a particularly high increase in renewable capacity investments, which could be driven by an increase of electrification of end-use sectors, growing energy demand, and expansion of electricity access. Other modelled pathways have relatively lower investments in renewables and rely to varying degrees on other technologies and measures such as energy efficiency and negative emissions technologies, of which the latter can require high up-front investments.