Only 50% of households in Myanmar, one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, are connected to the public grid. Five years ago, the government set a goal of electrifying 100% of the country by 2030.
With that in mind, in June, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, together with Smart Power Myanmar and supported by Chevron with a $250,000 grant, launched a pilot program to work with early and growth stage mini-grid developers expanding access to energy in rural and off-grid communities.
Mini-grids combine generation assets with distribution grids able to supply off-grid power to villages or townships. Typically they have generation capacity between 10 kW to a few hundred kW, although some larger mini-grids supply power to entire townships in Myanmar.
For Miller Center, the program combines two areas of focus—women’s economic empowerment and climate resilience, including energy access. “Bringing reliable energy into rural communities to lift people out of poverty has a positive impact on women and girls,” says Brigit Helms, Miller Center’s executive director. For example, electrification means that women are more likely to be able to earn an income and, as a result, can afford to send their daughters to school.