News 2013

Sunlabob COO featured speaker of World Economic Forum discussion on energy access in Myanmar

Simon Henschel addresses Young Global Leaders in webinar about role of decentralized renewable energy in expanding Myanmar’s electrification

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This week, COO Simon Henschel was the featured presenter of an Energy Access Initiative webinar hosted by the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders network to discuss avenues for reducing energy poverty in Myanmar.

Henschel highlighted how decentralized, community-level renewable energy can be an vital piece to national electrification planning in Myanmar, a country where only 1 in 4 residents has access to electricity.

“Decentralized renewable energy, particularly in rural communities, can play a major role – economically, socially and environmentally – in the quickly evolving energy landscape of Myanmar,” said Henschel, who spoke at the webinar as a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur. “With the right mix of policies from the Myanmar government and an encouraging business environment for public-private partnerships, renewable energy can make a real impact in the country.”

During the discussion, Henschel emphasized the key technical, financial and operational lessons learned by Sunlabob during its successful rural energy projects in neighboring Laos and other developing areas of the world and pointed out takeaways that can be applied in Myanmar. For example, he reiterated the need for full involvement of all key stakeholders – government, private sector, international aid agencies, rural communities, etc. – across the full continuum of project development.

Sunlabob’s outlook on electrification in Myanmar, including best practices and policy recommendations, were included in the World Economic Forum’s “New Energy Architecture: Myanmar” report launched in June during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Nay Pyi Taw. According to the Forum, it is the first ever comprehensive report on Myanmar’s energy sector and includes insights from members of business, government and civil society designed to facilitate effective energy reforms.

Sunlabob’s contribution to the report, “Looking to Laos as a model for off-grid renewable energy”, can be viewed on page 36 here.

Sunlabob’s viewpoints on the importance of decentralized renewable energy were also published recently in The Myanmar Times in an opinion article by Henschel and Sunlabob CEO Andy Schroeter.

“The case for decentralized renewable energy solutions in Myanmar is hard to ignore when more than 40 million people live without power,” added Henschel. “Positive economic and social development cannot occur without access to energy.”