ABB & Pact To Bring Solar Power To Rural Myanmar

A project engaging women to run solar battery charging stations could help provide reliable electricity to rural villages in Myanmar.

The power and automation technology group ABB will partner with Pact Myanmar to bring electricity in the form of solar power to approximately 3,500 individuals from villages in rural areas of Mandalay, Central Myanmar.

With an estimated population of 51 million, Myanmar is a newly emerging country that has a per capita GDP of only around US$1,105, one of the lowest in East Asia and the Pacific. At present, over 75 percent of inhabitants have no access to electricity of any form and rural communities account for two thirds of the total population.

The project was announced as the first round-the-world solar flight, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), made its landing in Mandalay, Myanmar. ABB is the technology partner of this pioneering airplane, which can fly both day and night powered only by solar energy.

The project involves establishing solar battery charging stations to be run by women’s groups in remote villages in the Tada Oo township. Power from the stations will be sold back to communities, thus bringing economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship to the townships. Financial support will also be provided for villages to purchase photovoltaic equipment at the community level.

For most villagers in these communities this will be the first time they will have reliable access to electricity. Through renewable energy, they will now be able to power lighting and small electrical applicances.

“Building up the energy infrastructure is essential to Myanmar’s future economic and social progress, and off-grid electrification is one way to accelerate access to electricity,” said Mr. Johan de Villiers, Managing Director of Singapore and South-East Asia, ABB.

Mr. Richard Harrison, Country Director of Pact Myanmar explained, “Pact is committed to partnering with communities and institutions to address the critical need for electricity in rural areas in Myanmar. Our project will help reduce routine community expenditures on more expensive traditional energy sources by up to 20 percent.”

“Once communities have access to reliable light and energy sources throughout the day and evening hours, they are more able to increase their standard of living, and will be able to allocate more time and resources to education, income generation, health and community development activities,” he said.

Daw Kyi of Kyaung Kone Village is excited about what this change means for their children. “Students will be able to study at night. This project promises a brighter future for our children,” she said.

This is the latest project in ABB’s Access to Electricity rural electrification program, with similar rural electrification projects in India and Tanzania. The program was developed as a response to the United Nations Global Compact which urged companies and organizations to provide greater assistance to least developed countries.

Source: Asian Scientist

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