One guiding principle for Schneider Electric in helping to provide access to energy in disadvantaged environments is to get the energy systems implemented as soon as possible. This way, those who were denied access to energy for whatever reason can quickly experience an improved standard of living.
Barriers do come up, though, and collaborating with other stakeholders is crucial to finding ways to overcome these barriers. Consequently, Schneider Electric has established partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. These include governments, regulatory agencies, development agencies, NGOs and community organizations, financial institutions, distributors and wholesalers from multiple industry segments, large international suppliers, panel builders, contractors, system integrators, and other specialists. And, of course, we work closely with those in the disadvantaged environments themselves.
“Our Access to Energy program covers energy-poor communities in countries across the world. Just as there is no ‘one size fits all’ technological solution, there is no universal partnership model or approach that will work everywhere. Sometimes, being unconventional helps,” said Gilles Vermot Desroches, Senior-Vice President Sustainability, Schneider Electric.
Such “out of the box” thinking was applied in Myanmar, where 70 percent of the population has no reliable supply of electricity. Schneider Electric wanted to help make reliable and affordable electricity available to villagers in Targone, Yoe Gyi and Khalout Thaike in Ayeyarwady Region. Linking up with remote villages in the country, however, can be a challenge without the right partner.
To access the communities, Schneider Electric chose a party from outside its usual constellation of partners: Golden Key Company, a diversified group whose agro-chemicals arm distributes fertilizers and pesticides to far-flung villages, including those in Ayeyarwady Region, via a network of outlets across the country.
Schneider Electric trained Golden Key’s sales managers and engineers in solar energy to become village electrification consultants who, in turn, educated the villagers and convinced them of the benefits of electrification. Eventually, solar-powered smart electrical micro-grids were installed in the three villages. The villagers chipped in by contributing labor for the installation of the poles that support the distribution lines. The micro-grids, which require minimal maintenance, supply 800 households with electricity, with each household equipped with two LED lights and a mobile charging dock or a radio. The project was financially backed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Farming, Fisheries and Rural Development.
“For the villagers in Ayeyarwady Region, gaining access to energy removes a major obstacle to their development and economic growth. That’s what is most important, that the communities are no longer disadvantaged when it comes to energy and benefit from an improved quality of life,” said Gilles Vermot Desroches.