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Solar Impulse 2 may have departed Burma, but it leaves behind a legacy that may shape our future.
As part of the project’s campaign to promote renewable energy, and in particular the benefits of solar power, the Solar Impulse team announced last week the initiation of a scheme that aims to bring electricity to 3,500 households in rural parts of Mandalay Division.
The project is to be implemented by Pact, an NGO currently active in similar schemes across the country, alongside ABB, a Swiss-based power and automation corporation.
According to a joint statement by the groups, the Swiss pilots and co-founders of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, were said to be “elated’ at the prospect of bringing solar energy to rural communities in a country where 70 percent of the population has no access to electricity.
The statement said that this initiative is part of a PACT plan to develop local solar power production for one million people in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, in the next five years, “in order to increase quality of life, create economic opportunities and boost education in remote areas of the country”.
Richard Harrison, the country director of Pact Myanmar, said, “Pact is committed to partnering with communities and institutions to address the critical need for electricity in rural areas in Myanmar. Over the next five years, the Ahlin Yaung project aims to provide renewable energy to one million people in Myanmar. The project builds on our existing livelihoods and development work in 35 townships and over a million households in Myanmar, extending access to solar energy sources by supporting community financing for sustainable village electrification. Our project will help reduce routine community expenditures on more expensive traditional energy sources by up to 20 percent.”
Chaiyot Piyawannarat, the country managing director for ABB in Burma, echoed the positive sentiment. “By bringing solar-powered electricity to these communities, we will make a lasting difference long after the Solar Impulse plane has departed,” he said.
In August 2014, The United States announced an agreement with the Burmese government to develop two 150-megawatt solar energy plants, one in Meikhtila and one in Myingyan.