PV system and mini-grid brings electricity to remote Laos village

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Sunlabob Renewable Energy has completed work on a mini-grid that will supply electricity to a remote village in rural Laos.

Sunlabob, which is based in Laos, claims the mini-grid will now provide around 500 villagers in Ban Houaypha, Luang Prabang province with affordable and reliable energy.

Working in conjunction with Fondation Energies pour le Monde (‘World Energy Foundation’), the French non-profit organisation co-funded by the European Union’s Intelligent Energy Europe programme, Sunlabob aimed to provide a self-sustaining operational model, employing local residents to operate, maintain and manage the system.

Around 83 households will utilise electricity from a 6.5kWp solar plant, distributed through a decentralised grid. Sunlabob supplied materials as well as designing and installing the system. Sunlabob and the foundation have previously already worked together on providing solar power to around 100 residents of another area of rural Laos.

Sunlabob chief executive Andy Schroetter said: “Rural electrification can only be economically and socially sustainable if members of the community are involved and empowered from the start.”

Yves Maigne, director of Fondation Energies pour le Monde commented that for the economic and social development of poor, rural communities, access to energy is essential. The village currently suffers from low income levels, poor healthcare and inadequate education, with access to electricity from the national grid not expected to be enabled in the short term.  

The mini-grid is the first step in a programme through which Fondation Energies pour le Monde plans to bring electricity to 10,000 rural residents of Laos across 15 village solar grids. While more developed nations have the option of aiming for and revising renewable energy targets, the government of Laos has instead set a target of 90% electrification by 2020.

Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) recently launched a micro-grid test bed on the island of Pulau Ubin, off the north eastern coast of the Singapore mainland. 

Distributed electricity, which is not reliant on a national grid infrastructure, has been backed for use not only in countries with populations that are in remote and rural areas but also in territories such as Japan, as a means to countering outdated, unreliable or regionalised grid systems and negating the difficulty of long-distance electricity transmission.

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