Whitepaper: Mini-Grids are Myanmar’s Next Decentralized Technology Revolution

The wireless telecommunications revolution in Myanmar has provided over 50 million sim cards to a country of 54 million people and fundamentally changed the lives of the Myanmar people in less than 4 years. Before the wireless telecom market was opened up to private competition, the cost of a single sim card was as high as $1500. Today, sim cards can be purchased for as little as $1. In the previous communication paradigm, all houses and businesses needed to be physically connected to one another through cables to make calls and access the internet. Now, through wireless telecom towers, even Myanmar citizens in rural areas can call, text, and use Facebook in the same way as a Yangon resident, without being connected to a centralized system.The same fundamental drivers of the decentralized telecom revolution are also developing in the electricity sector. The reason why over 65% of Myanmar’s population doesn’t have grid electricity is the same reason why they did not have landline telephones: building cables to remote villages is expensive and neither villages nor the utility can afford to pay that high cost. Decentralized mini-grids are enabled by scalable solar and battery storage, which can be used for electricity generation at the point of consumption unlike hydro, coal or natural gas. The steep and steady decline of the price of solar power is bringing about a paradigm-shift in the electricity industry across the world from the 20th-century centralized system to the 21st-century decentralized system. As in the telecommunications sector where Myanmar avoided the high cost of wired landline infrastructure by directly going to wireless mobile telecommunications to connect its people, Myanmar can leapfrog directly into decentralized power infrastructure and provide affordable grid-quality electricity to its people, right now.If you’d like to see more information about the shift from centralized to decentralized electricity infrastructure, please download our whitepaper – here.

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