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GSMA publishes Myanmar-focused Sunlabob case study on renewable energy for telecommunications

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GSM Association (GSMA), the industry group representing mobile operators worldwide, recently published a case study detailing its work with Sunlabob in Myanmar exploring the potential for providing renewable energy to telecommunications towers.

The case study, which can be viewed here, marked the conclusion of GSMA and Sunlabob’s partnership that began in July 2014 to examine the technical, financial and operational elements required to establish an energy service company (ESCo) capable of meeting the demands of the quickly growing telecommunications industry in Myanmar.

More than 15,000 mobile towers are expected to be built in the coming years, many of which will be in rural, hard-to-reach areas not served by the central electricity grid. Less than 30 percent of Myanmar’s population currently has no access to grid-connected power.

“Myanmar is at the ground-level of development in telecommunications as well as the electricity and power sectors, which offers a unique opportunity to implement new technologies and models that address both areas,” said Andy Schroeter, CEO of Sunlabob.

The joint study – which also included Relitec, Sunlabob’s Myanmar partner – was part of GSMA’s Green Power for Mobile program.

In parallel to examining business models for providing energy services to towers, Sunlabob and Relitec are exploring opportunities for utilizing excess tower electricity to provide energy-enabled services to off-grid communities such as healthcare, lighting, water access and income-generation.

“The growing telecommunications industry in Myanmar can play an important role in the rest of the country’s progress. Tapping into the power supply of telecoms infrastructure is one innovative way of integrating private sector development into the country’s social and economic development, particularly in rural, off-grid areas,” added Schroeter.