News 2013

CEO addresses ASEAN energy community about role of off-grid renewables in regional electrification

Presentation focuses on off-grid energy access as key element of holistic, long-term rural development


Andy Schroeter, CEO of Sunlabob, this week spoke at the annual gathering of Southeast Asia’s energy community in Bali, Indonesia. Addressing the ASEAN Energy Business Forum, which included members of business, academia and government, Schroeter highlighted off-grid electrification as an important driver of rural development in the region.

Citing that nearly 150 million people in the ASEAN region still live without access to electricity, Schroeter pointed specifically to decentralized mini-grids as a viable solution for providing robust and reliable electricity to rural communities without national grid access.

“Providing electricity for lighting and mobile phone charging is a positive first step, but the real goal is to provide productive energy that can power important functions like rice mills, vaccine refrigerators and construction tools,” said Schroeter. “Village mini-grids from renewable energy can address those critical energy needs in developing rural areas.”

Schroeter also called for more frequent use of community-based operational models – a core approach of Sunlabob – to help incentivize and empower local beneficiaries to maintain renewable energy systems in a self-sustaining manner.

“Access to energy is a game-changing ingredient in rural, developing areas – but only if it can be a long-lasting solution that continues delivering the benefits of electricity for several years,” said Schroeter, who stressed that public-private partnerships have proven to be the most viable and replicable approach to implementing rural energy.

The presentation also underscored the need for increased linkage of energy services to wider rural development initiatives such as training and capacity-building for income-generating activities in rural communities.

“Rural communities only can maximize new access to energy if other fundamental elements of development such as education, health and market creation also are delivered,” said Schroeter.

Founded in Laos in 2000, Schroeter and Sunlabob have expanded internationally, delivering the company’s community-based approach to renewable energy and clean water access throughout Southeast Asia the Pacific islands, Africa and India.

Within Southeast Asia, Sunlabob’s experience is extensive, ranging from the supply and installation of 12,000 solar home systems in Cambodia, solar PV installation and training in post-tsunami Indonesia, and rural electrification planning in Myanmar.