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Public-private partnership taps Sunlabob for Lao village electrification

Off-grid renewable energy enabled by United Nations and Government of Laos collaboration


Sunlabob recently finalized a public-private partnership agreement with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of Lao PDR to implement a renewable energy-based micro-grid in a rural, off-grid village of approximately 375 people.

The partnership with ESCAP and the Government’s Institute of Renewable Energy Promotion (IREP) will enable the electrification of 74 households in Ban Nam Ngim, a village in Xayabouly Province, in the northwest of Lao PDR.

The micro-grid, likely to be solar-powered, is a part of the Pro-Poor Public-Private Partnership (5P) model being undertaken by ESCAP and IREP to enhance rural development through access to modern alternative energy services.

“Multi-stakeholder efforts like this – that combine private sector expertise, public sector resources and community buy-in – are exactly what is needed for effective, long-lasting rural electrification,” said Andy Schroeter, CEO, Sunlabob, one of the few private sector providers of off-grid renewable energy in Laos.

Sunlabob will provide all technical and engineering services including the design, material supply, installation and commission of the micro-grid, which will be managed and maintained by the community.

To enable a long-term, community-led operational model, Sunlabob and the project’s partners will facilitate the establishment of a local energy utility business by providing hands-on technical capacity-building for selected technicians responsible for operations and maintenance. End-users will also be trained how to properly utilize the new access to electricity.

“Forming effective partnerships, such as public-private partnerships, which contribute to sustainable development is a key means to achieving the upcoming Millennium Development Goals and future Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, community mobilization – putting the villagers at the center of the operational model – is pivotal to sustainable, long-term development in remote areas like Ban Nam Ngim,” said Mr. Thongkhanh Phimvilay, Director General, IREP.

The Lao Institute for Renewable Energy (LIRE), a non-profit research organization, will undertake feasibility studies and pre-project community surveys to ensure Ban Nam Ngim is provided with an energy solution and operational model tailored to the community’s needs.

Preliminary feasibility studies and resource assessments are to begin immediately, with the commissioning of the system planned for the first quarter of 2015.

More information about ESCAP’s energy-related activities can be found here.