A new IFC study shows there is significant potential for distributed solar solutions in the commercial and industrial sectors in Myanmar, presenting businesses an opportunity to bring down their power costs, as well as their climate impacts, according to a press release.
The Myanmar Distributed Generation Scoping Study estimates there are more than 700 megawatts worth of potential commercial and industrial solar projects in the country, equivalent to around 10 percent of the existing electric power generating capacity in the country. And it says solar is now cost competitive with other sources of electricity for many commercial and industrial businesses, providing a viable addition to help diversify Myanmar’s sustainable energy mix.
Myanmar needs to provide electricity to more than half of its population who are not connected to the national electricity grid and lack reliable electricity. Power outages are still common. Access to reliable electricity is a key challenge for businesses which are forced to rely on expensive costly, polluting backup diesel generators. The study found that businesses were getting an average of around 10 percent of their power from diesel due to frequent power cuts.
“Clearly with Myanmar’s crucial energy needs, the country’s commercial and industrial businesses are looking for near-term solutions to their electricity challenges,” says Isabel Chatterton, IFC’s Asia Pacific Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure and Natural Resources.“ It is clear from our study that there is a big opportunity for businesses to look to solar to help provide sustainable power to meet their needs. Several commercial and industrial businesses are in a good position to take advantage of the fast-growing distributed solar generation sector through private-sector led solutions and financing. “
Based on a survey of more than 50 factories, shopping centers and other sites throughout Myanmar, the study shows almost all consumers experienced grid interruptions, on average one to three times a day. The worst week in the year saw power blackouts of six to 10 hours. The study lays out the opportunity for the development of distributed solar projects, involving private solar solution providers and financiers.
Supported by the governments of Australia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, the study is part of IFC’s overall work to help tackle Myanmar’s power needs and diversify the country’s energy mix. IFC previously led an extensive consultation process on a Strategic Environmental Assessment to provide environmental and social guidelines for sustainable hydro power project development in the country. IFC’s Lighting Myanmar program has reached nearly 80,000 households in just two years with off-grid solar power solutions, even in some of the country’s most remote off-grid areas.