Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Off-grid projects to jump-start rural electrification

In a bid to develop and bring progress to rural areas that are not on the national electric supply grid, a pilot off-grid project is being implemented in 10 villages.

According to U Aung Thu, Union Minister for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), eight pilot projects for small-scale off-grid power supply will be implemented in selected villages during this fiscal year.

“The eight pilot projects for small-scale off-grid power will be implemented in 10 villages by the Rural Development Department that will help bring development to rural folk. We will be carrying out these projects with our development partners,” he said when addressing the Renewable Energy Investors Forum, held at Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday.

Myanmar is one of the countries that has the lowest per capita energy consumption rate with 70 percent of its population living in rural areas having no access to the national supply grid.

It is learnt that technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also helping in the implementation of the rural electrification project by utilising a solar mini-grid system in 12 villages.

The pilot projects to be implemented during this year will build a mini-grid system to serve areas not covered in the national grid.

The MOALI has a set target to electrify more than 35,000 households with mini-grid systems during the five years, from 2016 to 2021.

It also hopes to supply electricity to over 460,000 households in the same period by installing home solar panels.

U Aung Thu said that the off-grid power supply cannot be done by the government alone and the private sector’s participation is important in achieving this target.

“We have targeted to generate 30MW from off-grid power sources and hope to supply about five hundred thousand households within the first five years. To accomplish that goal, private sector participation is very critical,” he said.

Procedures and technical details of mini-grid electricity supply and standards are being drafted with the help of international organisations like the World Bank, ADB and Germany’s Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The Union minister also requested that forum participants cooperate and support in drafting the rules, procedures and standards needed to launch the mini grid system. 

Translation by Zaw Nyunt