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.

Complexity Behind China’s Launch of its Own GitHub Alternative

Is the latest tech development purely a strategic move to achieve industrial competitive advantage, or is it rooted in the nation’s quest for stringent information censorship, now reignited due to Covid-19?

63-year-Old Skates Her Way to Cancer Recovery

Cruising on an empty Bangkok highway, 63-year-old Nongluck Chairuettichai — the oldest member of Thailand’s longboard national team — says taking up the sport set her on the road to recovery from breast cancer.

Japan Urged People to Seek Help after the Death of Actress Yuko Takeuchi

Japan’s government Monday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following the death at the weekend of a popular actress.

Stop Making Sense: The Strange Auteurism of Stephen Chow

Auteur theory is a complicated subject to broach, seeing that the debate to place a definition on the term “auteur” has been ongoing since the 1940s. Everyone has their own variation and take on the term that gets assigned to monolithic and specific directors.

Documentary Film on Wuhan’s Outbreak Captured Harrowing Footage of Ground Zero

Back in February, when few Americans were aware of a distant and oddly named phenomenon called coronavirus, two Chinese filmmakers strapped on hazmat suits and embedded themselves in Wuhan’s overrun hospitals.

Louis Vuitton Employee Busted in Multi-Million Dollar Counterfeit Scheme

A Louis Vuitton sales representative from their Guangzhou store has been accused of repeatedly selling bags before its launch at a high price to counterfeiting companies.

Netflix Adapts Famous Chinese Novel ‘Three Body Problem’ into a Series

Netflix has gotten the right to produce Liu Cixin’s popular science fiction work The Three Body Problem into a series. The project will involve bigtime names in the industry like Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as executive producers, and director Rian Johnson from The Last Jedi.

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.

India’s Coronavirus Cases Pass 5 Million

India’s total coronavirus cases passed five million on Wednesday, health ministry data showed, as the pandemic extends its grip on the vast country at an ever-faster rate.

Shining A Light On Asia’s Suicides

When is suicide not just taking of one’s life, but something much more insidious?

What It’s Like to Navigate the Art World as an Asian American

Although America is waking up to the need for representation in media, one industry has yet to make major progress in this area. Art museums and galleries remain a staunch, traditional atmosphere, and as a young Chinese artist, I recognize that we have a long way to go.

The Truth about Asia and its Obsession with Plastic

Plastic waste has become a common sight in Asia. But why should you care?

Women in Japan Turn to Popular App to Solve Persistent Groping Problem

Commuters in Japan are fighting back groping with an app

Exiled K-Pop Star May Finally Return to Korea after 17 Years

A K-pop singer who was deported and barred from South Korea for avoiding conscription by becoming a US citizen should be allowed to return after 17 years in exile, a court ruled Friday.

TikTok Launches New Platform Aimed for Businesses

Fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok on Wednesday launched a self-serve ad platform, underscoring its ambition to compete with rival social platforms even as it faces new scrutiny in the US and elsewhere.

Crowds in Masks Pack out China Auto Show after Virus Delay

Crowds packed a mega motor show in Beijing on Saturday — the only major international auto event this year — as manufacturers hope to boost the world’s biggest car market despite the coronavirus battering demand.

Journalist Wins High-Profile Rape Case in Japan

A Tokyo court Wednesday awarded 3.3 million yen ($30,000) in damages to journalist Shiori Ito, who accused a former TV reporter of rape in one of the most high-profile cases of the #MeToo movement in Japan.

Jeremy Lin Pledges up to $1M to Coronavirus Battle

Former NBA guard Jeremy Lin, the first Asian-American to win an NBA title, pledged up to $1 million to coronavirus relief efforts on Monday.

Hungry and Homeless: Philippine ‘Jeepney’ Drivers Hit by Virus

Forced off the road by coronavirus lockdowns, Philippine “jeepney” driver Daniel Flores now plies the streets of Manila on foot begging for money to feed his hungry family.

Crash Landing Will Make You Swoon, Laugh, and Cry in Between

Korean dramas’ explosive growth into the mainstream resulted in rapid production of new shows that are hard to differentiate from one to another, but every once in a while, one drama reigns supreme. Now, it’s Crash Landing on You, a K-drama centered on a rich South Korean tycoon who lands by accident on the wrong side of the country’s demilitarized zone. But how swoon-worthy is it? 

Taiwan Artisans Fuse Reality and Fantasy in Miniature Worlds

From a bucolic rural grocery shop to fictional battlefields and robot warrior bases, Taiwanese artisans are meticulously handcrafting miniature worlds that fuse reality and fantasy.

Arisa Tsubata: Japanese Boxing Nurse Dreaming of Olympics and Fighting Coronavirus

Olympic boxing hopeful Arisa Tsubata is used to taking blows in the ring but it is during her work as a nurse that she faces her toughest opponent: coronavirus.

Hong Kong: Depression and Suicide at an All-Time High

Struggling Youth in Hong Kong: Depression and Suicide at an All-Time High, Morale is shot as the youth face depressive tendencies

China Pushes Back Harvard Study on Covid-19 May Have Started Since August

Beijing on Thursday criticized a preliminary study by US researchers suggesting the coronavirus may have been circulating in China since August 2019, calling it proof of a disinformation campaign.

President Xi Lavished Praise on Macau for ‘Patriotism’

Chinese President Xi Jinping lavished praise on Macau Thursday for instilling patriotism and rejecting political strife, in stark contrast to his tough words for neighboring Hong Kong as it convulses with unrest.

Malaysian Ghostly Patrol on Lockdown

A ghostly figure with wild hair and a flowing beard is haunting a small Malaysian community in a bid to ensure superstitious residents stay home during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

Clubbing Goes Online as Virus Shuts Down Nightlife

Strobe lights flash across a near-empty dance floor, as a DJ live-streams thumping electronic music from a Singapore nightclub to revelers confined to their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

‘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.

Cubo: World’s Smartest AI Baby Monitor

Parenting is now made easier thanks to the Cubo AI baby monitor which lets parents check on their baby using an app in real time. The product also boasts other amazing features that would solve the woes of many first-time parents.

Cure Aqua Gel: Japan’s Number One Exfoliator

The award-winning exfoliator skincare has changed lives around the world, letting people achieve their ultimate skin goals

Hundreds of Organizations Urged UN to Strip Beijing of 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Hundreds of organizations urged the United Nations to probe rights violations in China on Wednesday as other groups called for Olympic chiefs to strip Beijing of the 2022 winter games.

The Heir to Samsung Empire Avoided Arrest Over Controversial Merger

The heir to South Korea’s Samsung empire avoided arrest on Tuesday over a controversial merger of two business units seen as a key step to his succession, Yonhap news agency reported.

Iconic Asian Breads You Can Actually Try to Make at Home

Are you a bread lover? If so, you need to explore more options other than your favorite sourdough and baguette. Asia offers a wide array of famous breads that are so good it will make you want to make it yourself. We scour some of the best tutorials so you can try to make them at home.

These Businesses are Booming in the Coronavirus Economy

The coronavirus pandemic has sent stock markets into freefall and industries to the wall, however many firms enabling more private, online and tech-based living are emerging as potential winners.

Shoppers Get Hilariously Creative After Plastic Bag Ban in Thailand

Thai shoppers grabbed baskets, buckets, and even a wheelbarrow to skirt a new ban on single-use plastic bags at big retailers, with many posting images of their efforts online.

Fresh Food Spiked While Restaurants Starved for Cash in China

It is lunch time in Beijing, but the only diner in Cindy’s Cafe is an employee having a staff meal — it has been closed for more than three weeks as China battles a deadly virus epidemic.

Umiki: The World’s First Ocean-Fused Whisky

Want to get a taste of the ocean in the comfort of your own home? You can finally do it thanks to Umuki Whisky by Yoshino Spirits. The highly-anticipated drink will be available in North American and Asian markets in June.

Japan Supercomputer Is World’s Fastest

Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer, built with government backing and used in the fight against coronavirus, is now ranked as the world’s fastest, its developers announced Monday.

Beijing School Students Trial Temperature-Tracking Bracelets

Temperature-monitoring bracelets that alert an app if a student has a fever were being trialed at Beijing schools on Monday — China’s latest use of high-tech to track its population’s possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Deep Distrust: Fake News from China and Hong Kong Runs Rampant

Murder disguised as a suicide. A secret massacre at a subway station. Impending ‘terrorist’ attacks: fake news online is amplifying fear and confusion in Hong Kong as months of pro-democracy unrest turns increasingly violent in the real world.

Get to Know Quibi, the Hottest Binge-Watching App Today

An all-mobile streaming app? Count me in! Quibi is the newest app to serve people on-the-go who can’t be bothered whipping out their laptops or TV to watch a show. Here’s everything you need to know about the app you’re destined to love.

Effective Hangover Cures Used in Asia You Need to Try

Ordering a full bottle of whiskey or getting or bottomless piñacolada drinks with your best buddies may be fun, but the morning hangover is anything but that. Check out these Asian hangover cures that would wash your pounding headache away.

The Secretive Church at Center of South Korea’s Virus Outbreak

The secretive South Korean religious group at the center of the country’s new coronavirus outbreak is a sprawling network so wealthy it can mobilize thousands of believers to hold Pyongyang-style mass performances at Seoul’s Olympic stadium.

Osaka’s Third Grand Slam, Anti-Racism Stand, Hailed in Japan

Naomi Osaka’s victory in the US Open was hailed Sunday by media and officials in Japan, who broadly welcomed her campaigning for victims of racial injustice and against police brutality.

Japan Seeks Dominance In Global Renewable Energy Race

Blessed with a variety of renewable resources like wind, solar, and marine, Japan is now looking to dominate the global renewable energy race. And it starts with an Olympic event.

Cathy Freeman’s Olympic Victory Etched into Australia’s DNA 20 Years On

Cathy Freeman’s triumphant Olympic moment two decades ago officially became part of Australia’s genome Friday, with the nation’s archivists using synthetic DNA data storage to preserve the footage.

Forgotten Australian History Showcased in Camel Adventure Pic

Australian director Roderick MacKay was blown away one day in 2014 viewing 19th century photographs of Muslim and Sikh men leading camels through his native country’s harsh desert outback.

Indonesia on Fire: Losing Our Minds Over Blasphemy Laws

Indonesia is beginning to change its face of tolerance, to one of repression and radical Islamism.

Hong Kong Marks 6-Months of Protest with Massive Rally

Democracy protesters took part in the largest mass rally through Hong Kong’s streets in months on Sunday in a forceful display of support for the movement, with a leading activist warning the city’s pro-Beijing leaders they had a “last chance” to end the political crisis.

Hanoi Motorbike Taxi Drivers Turn First Responders

On the tarmac of a dark Hanoi street, motorbike taxi driver Pham Quoc Viet mops the bloodied knee of a fellow rider, one of the hundreds of traffic victims he’s tended to in the chaotically congested Vietnamese capital.

‘I Feel Nothing’: Virus-Stricken Wuhan Buries Its Dead

As China’s coronavirus epicenter Wuhan awakens from its long nightmare, formerly locked-down citizens are beginning to reemerge, but for many, their first outdoor act in more than two months is grim: burying loved ones.

Must-Have Korean Staples in the Kitchen

If you really love Korean food, you will love these kitchen staples.

Coming Out As Gay in Asia

Many gay men openly reject feminine gay men, as if they are less gay when partnering with straight-looking gay men. – Robert

Generation Z around the Globe Find Ways to Help Others

With their art, technology know-how, creative social networking skills or political commitment, post-millennials, known as Generation Z, have found their own ways to help others through the coronavirus lockdown.

India vs. Pakistan Impending Nuclear Conflict: Ready To Put On That Hazmat Suit?

The growing tension between Asian neighbors India and Pakistan is now deemed to be one of the most dangerous crises to ever happen post-Cold War era.

Chinese Surveyors Became the First Team in 2020 to Summit Mount Everest

A group of Chinese surveyors on Wednesday became the first team this year to summit Mount Everest, where they will try to pinpoint the height of the world’s tallest peak using satellite technology.

Japan’s Women Grapple for Judo Equality

Judo’s founder Jigoro Kano was decades ahead of his time by empowering women to take up the sport that prizes technique over brute force.