Myanmar’s Energy Revolution

Jul 21, 2019 | Asia, GOV, Myanmar

Myanmar – Yoma Micro Power – Commercial use

Myanmar’s private sector is lighting up the country –literally. 

Myanmar’s private sector is taking the country’s energy crisis into its own hands, and the solution is as green as can be. The country has one of the lowest electrification rates in Asia, with an estimated 40% of the entire country’s population unpowered. The government’s response to the problem has been slow, so slow in fact that the private sector has lurched forward with a decentralized energy revolution of its own, using solar power technology.

Decentralized Energy

Yoma Micro Power is one of the up and coming “off the grid” power providers in the region. The company currently has 51 micro power plants and each one can power a small town. It plans to establish up to 2000 more micro power plants by 2022.

Solar power generation companies make use of materials that are easier to acquire, and the distribution system for each small area is easier to assemble and roll out. Instead of losing five to six months waiting for equipment and supplies to setup grid power, the company uses solar technology and diesel generators to ensure consistent power supply for all the towns that they serve.

Myanmar currently uses a mix of power sources, with 65% of its power being derived from hydropower. According to Yoma Micro Power’s CEO, Alakesh Chetia, the main problem with big government projects is they tend to gestate for a long period of time before actual implementation; sometimes, this gestation period can take up to ten years. Solar power plants are also more practical, Alakesh argues: “instead of building a mega-plant and transporting all the power, you can build many small plants near the point of consumption.”

Chetia believes that the power industry in the country will experience a fast resurgence, much like the country’s telecommunications industry, which boomed after its decentralization in 2013. Chetia also believes that from the standpoint of power security, a decentralized power grid is superior to a centralized one: “Decentralized electricity is more resilient; a centralized grid is more susceptible to weather, terrorism, or even foreign attacks.”

Solving a National Crisis

Previous attempts to turn a profit with solar power have been unsuccessful due to the over-reliance of other companies on government subsidies. Solar initiatives tied to government subsidies have turned out a meager 36 power plants thus far.

Yoma Micro Power’s business model, which allowed the tiny company to supply power even to the telecommunications industry, has attracted the interest and capital investment of a Norwegian International Finance Corporation, Norfund in 2017. The injection of capital has definitely helped Yoma Micro Power sustain its objective of creating more power plants near towns and cities that need them the most.

The energy crisis remains palpable to a disproportionately large chunk of the country. While the government states that it wishes to close the energy gap and energize the country by 2030, the logistics of this main aim are daunting. Government underinvestment in this sector has long led to widespread electrical shortages throughout the country.

With the decentralized solar-powered systems, a single mini solar power plant generating around 3.6 kW can power up to 200 households at a time. In Yangon, another private initiative, SolaRiseSys, has been establishing mini grids with the help of the Asian Development Bank.

What’s interesting is how these mini-grids are actually sustained by the households. Instead of paying for consumed electricity on a monthly basis, the households utilize the mini-grids using a prepay system, complete with magnetic cards. The basic package provides a maximum of 100 watts-hour per household, and a minimum of 50 watts-hour at any given time. Current tariffs are a mere $1/month.

A basic package is sufficient to power five light bulbs, one USB charging port, and one 230-volt AC outlet per household. The company uses concrete poles that are grid-ready, meaning the system can swap power with the main electrical lines in the event of power insufficiency. This ensures consistent power and continuous comfort to the residents.

The Tasty Roundup: App Pays You To Eat Vegan, Cell-Based Lobster, Pink Pineapple & More

In this week’s spread of tasty news – pay-a-vegan pays people to eat plant-based meals, cell-based firm Shiok Meats launches lobster meat, pink pineapple now available, white strawberries coming soon, the most underrated foodie destinations in the world, and RecoMentor launches site.

212 Environmental Activists Murdered in 2019 According to NGOs

At least 212 environmental campaigners worldwide were murdered in 2019, making last year the deadliest on record for frontline activists battling the destruction of Nature, watchdog group Global Witness reported Wednesday.

Game of Intimidation: The Challenges of Foreign Media in China

China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters this week over a headline that displeased Beijing highlights the precarious status of foreign journalists working in the country.

Remembering Anthony Bourdain: “Food isn’t Everything”

A Man of the World and the Heart of Culture, the world-famous chef left an unforgettable mark that transformed food and travel forever,

Vietnam’s Lychee Crop Not Bearing Fruit as Prices Slump

Hundreds of lychee farmers sorted and graded huge piles of the tropical fruit at a busy wholesale market in northern Vietnam on Tuesday, but many bemoaned slumping prices as foreign traders were held up in quarantine.

Thai Navy SEAL Dies From Infection Contracted During Cave Rescue

A Thai Navy SEAL who aided with the rescue of a youth football team trapped in a flooded cave last year has died from an infection he contracted during the dramatic recovery mission.

Japan: Leading the Way to Turn Waste into Energy

The surmounting garbage and waste problem in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, might soon be given a solution as Japan looks into creating more waste-to-power plants in the neighborhood.

Taiwan Director Convicted for Crew Member Sex Assault

Prominent Taiwanese director Doze Niu was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday for sexually assaulting a female crew member working on a film he was making.

Humans Try to Take Back Thai City from Fearless Monkeys

Residents barricaded indoors, rival gang fights and no-go zones for humans. Welcome to Lopburi, an ancient Thai city overrun by monkeys super-charged on junk food, whose population is growing out of control.

Seoul City under Fire for Sexist Advice to Pregnant Women

The Seoul city government is facing a popular backlash after advising pregnant women to cook their husbands several meals and ensure they have a supply of clean underwear before going to hospital to give birth.

Sexual Violence Against Women in India at an All-Time High

Newly acquired statistics report that women continue to suffer at the hands of repressed men in India

Movie Release Schedules: It’s All about the Numbers

Why do movies get released from US to Asia at different times and locations? Here’s the breakdown

Wuhan Next-of-Kin Accuse China of Blocking COVID Lawsuits

Wuhan pensioner Zhong Hanneng endured every parent’s worst nightmare when coronavirus claimed her son in February, and — alongside other bereaved relatives — she wants to sue the local government she blames for his death.

Sake Makers Begun Producing Stronger Alcohol to Beat Sanitizer Shortage

Strong alcoholic drinks can be used “when absolutely necessary” instead of hand sanitiser in Japanese hospitals, authorities said, as supplies run dry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

How Augmented Reality is Reshaping Southeast Asia

Augmented reality has all the makings of a disruptive technology that will create waves in almost every industry.

People with Neanderthals DNA Can Make Covid-19 More Severe

Covid-19 patients with a snippet of Neanderthal DNA that crossed into the human genome some 60,000 years ago run a higher risk of severe complications from the disease, researchers have reported.

How Korea’s Screen Golf Emerged as a Way of Life

On the final green of the tournament, Ha Ki-won carefully took his stance and addressed the ball. A gentle strike, and it rolled forward.

Credit Card Problems for Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam after Sanctions

Hong Kong’s leader says using her credit cards had been “hampered” by the United States slapping sanctions on her in response to a sweeping new security law in the financial hub.

Inside China’s Influencer Marketing Strategy

China accounts for 560 million people who watched live-streams according to China Network Information Center.  The country’s market worth is estimated to reach a staggering $170 billion this year.

The Death of Christine Dacera Raises Questions on ‘Rape-Slay’ Theory

The death of Christine Dacera, a 23-year-old flight attendant, has been taking over headlines since the start of the year. To date, millions of anxious social media users have been keeping tabs on her case after she died in a hotel in Makati.

South Korea Dials Up Virus Testing with Hospital ‘Phone Booths’

A South Korean hospital has introduced phone booth-style coronavirus testing facilities that allow medical staff to examine patients from behind the safety of a plastic panel, the latest innovation in the country’s drive to track down infections.

Wuhan: China’s Punk Capital Loses Its Voice Under Pandemic

Wuhan is arguably China’s punk capital, its historically feisty reputation reflected in the writhing mosh pits and live venues of a vibrant music scene.

Bolstered by Pandemic, Tech Titans Face Growing Scrutiny

Accelerating the transition to an ever more digital life, the coronavirus pandemic has tightened tech giants’ grip on billions of customers’ lives.

World’s First: Japan Firm Develops Second Skin Spray-on Facemask

A Japanese cosmetics company Wednesday unveiled what it said was the world’s first spray-on skin, a moisturising facemask made of fibres one-100th the thickness of a human hair.

China and India’s Low-Tech Battle at the Border

India and China’s militaries have some of the world’s most sophisticated modern weaponry, but their deadliest scrap in over 50 years was fought using fists, rocks wrapped in barbed wire and clubs studded with nails.

All Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Lawmakers to Resign as China Crushes Opposition

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers said Wednesday they would all quit in protest at the ousting of four of their colleagues by the city’s pro-Beijing authorities.

U2 Brings The Joshua Tree Tour To Asia

U2 will be in Asia this coming November and December to perform, for the first time in Singapore, at the National Stadium as part of the band’s The Joshua Tree World Tour.

China Star Wu Lei ‘Turns Down Premier League’ to Stay at Espanyol

Wu Lei contemplated “giving up and returning to China” after testing positive for coronavirus in March and says he turned down offers from Germany and England to remain at Espanyol.

Ghosn Stunning Escape Sparks Outrage Over Japan’s Bail System

Updated as of 05/21/20 – Carlos Ghosn’s stunning flight while on bail awaiting trial has vindicated prosecutors who said he should have been kept in custody, and sparked calls to toughen Japan’s justice system that critics say is already overly harsh.

Most Popular K-Pop Groups Voted by Global Fans 2019

In recent years, music from South Korea has taken the world by storm. But among the hundreds of South Korean groups, who are the ring leaders? Stubhub has found out the most popular ones.

South Korea Launch Drive-In Experience for Annual Circus

A clown juggled and acrobats launched themselves through the air above a stage in an open field in Seoul at the weekend as the audience watched from the safety of their cars, cocooned from the risk of coronavirus.

TikTok Pulls Out of Hong Kong After New Security Law

The wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok will no longer work in Hong Kong, its makers said, after a new security law imposed by China gave authorities sweeping powers to police local users.

Hong Kong Activist Joshua Wong Calls for Solidarity As Books Ordered Removed

Top Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong called on the international community Monday to “stand with” the restless city, as authorities ordered schools to remove books for review under a sweeping new security law imposed by Beijing.

Mobile Verdict: A Glimpse into the Future World of China’s Digital Courts

Artificial-intelligence judges, cyber-courts, and verdicts delivered on chat apps — welcome to China’s brave new world of justice spotlighted by authorities this week.

Indian Cow Dung Festival Celebrates the End to Diwali

Dozens of exuberant villagers scooped up handfuls of cow dung to mould and toss at each other like snowballs this week for the Gorehabba festival, a local conclusion to India’s most important festival, Diwali.

The Ex-Cop Behind China’s Largest Gay Dating App

Browsing the internet as a young policeman in China, Ma Baoli recalls the sheer volume of web pages telling him he was a pervert, diseased and in need of treatment — simply because he was gay.

Inter-Species Lockdown Meet-Up at Japan Aquarium

A Japanese aquarium has come up with a wild idea to entertain the public during its temporary closure due to the coronavirus outbreak — introducing sea animals to each other and sharing the results online.

TikTok App Removes ISIS Related Videos

Social media app TikTok has taken down accounts that were posting propaganda videos for the Islamic State group, a company employee said Tuesday, in the latest scandal to hit the popular platform.

Girl Who Cycled 1,200 km in 7 Days Carrying Injured Father Offered to Join National Team

A 15-year-old girl who pedaled her injured migrant-worker father more than a thousand kilometers across India after a coronavirus lockdown left them destitute has been invited to try out for the national cycling team.

A Giant Panda in Taipei Zoo Has Given Birth to a Second Cub

A giant panda gifted by China to Taiwan has given birth to a second female cub after being artificially inseminated, Taipei Zoo announced Monday.

The Rundown: All about Sri Lanka

Everything you Need to Know About Sri Lanka: The Nation of Beauty and Resiliency

Hidden Camera Footage Shows Abusive Taming of Baby Elephant at Thai Camp

Footage of a distressed baby elephant jabbed by bullhooks at a Thai camp to tame it before joining the tourist industry has been released by conservationists in an appeal to end the practice.

Graduating Hong Kong Students Display Banned Pro-Democracy Slogans

Dozens of graduating Hong Kong students displayed slogans on Thursday that authorities have declared illegal in a rare act of defiance against a sweeping new national security law imposed on the city by Beijing.

‘Return of the Son’: Ex-NBA Star Jeremy Lin Gets Taiwan Passport

Former NBA star Jeremy Lin has obtained a passport from Taiwan, his ancestral home, officials said, just weeks after completing a season with China’s Beijing Ducks.

Hong Kong Medics Strike for China Border Closure

Hundreds of Hong Kong medical workers walked off their jobs on Monday, demanding the city close its border with China to reduce the coronavirus spreading — with frontline staff threatening to follow suit in the coming days.

No Mercy: Leaked Documents Reveal How China ‘Handles’ Uighurs

Leaked government documents outlining the need to prevent escape, double lock doors and constantly monitor detainees in China’s network of internment camps in Xinjiang refute Beijing’s defense of “vocational education centres” in the region, experts say.

Japan’s Top Olympic Swimmer Suspended for Extra-Marital Affair

Japan’s top Olympic swimmer Daiya Seto has been barred from competitions and official training until the end of the year as punishment for an affair exposed by a tabloid.

China’s Easy Money: Borrowers are Drowning in Online Debt

Telecoms engineer Peng Jiezhao’s taste for new smartphones and expensive sneakers seemed like a harmless, if expensive, hobby – until he started borrowing money from Chinese online lending sites to feed it.

Help Wanted: Jobless China Workers Await Relief

Life is never easy for China’s nearly 300 million migrant workers, but with the coronavirus zapping jobs at a historic clip, unemployed factory laborer Wei Guikun is at his wits’ end.

Stranded Japanese Couple Accidently Become Olympic Ambassadors

A pair of Japanese honeymooners stranded in Cape Verde by the coronavirus pandemic have been named unlikely ambassadors for the tropical paradise’s Olympic team at next year’s Tokyo Games.

China’s ‘Spiderman’ Picking Trash over the Abyss

Dangling 400 metres (1,300 feet) over a void, suspended only by a cord, Yang Feiyue is not your average litter-picker.