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Tailored delivery models are driving growth for off-grid energy in Southeast Asia

The region exhibits a wide range of delivery models to support the development and operation of off-grid energy infrastructure. Innovative models engaging the public and private sectors and communities have emerged to enhance long-term sustainability of the energy system. For example, for years local private micro-utilities have developed and operated microhydro and biomass gasifier projects in countries such as Myanmar. Several types of equipment are now manufactured locally (e.g., the pelton turbine, mechanical governor and mild steel penstock), allowing them to be tailored to the contexts and localising the maintenance of the systems.

International and regional development finance institutions, such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and SNV, are also active in the region. Their engagement in the sector has taken various forms, including public-private partnerships. Viet Nam’s biogas programme was initiated by the Dutch government and the Vietnamese Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development and implemented by the Department of Livestock Production supported by SNV. This institutional approach ensured that the programme was nationally owned and managed.

Although different models of public and private sector participation can be seen, communities have played a strong role across the case studies analysed. They are involved in the ownership, design, financing, development, operation and maintenance of energy infrastructure, whether through newly created community organisations (e.g., co-operatives in Sumba Island in Indonesia or through existing organisations such as village development committees).

In Indonesia, in Sumba Island, a micro-hydro facility is owned, operated and maintained by the Kamanggih Community Cooperative. The system supplies electricity to over 100 households and exports excess power to the national grid. The co-operative has grown its assets from nearly USD 300 000 to over USD 624 000, allowing it to support its members with a wider range of financial services. Tailored financing solutions are also playing a crucial role in accelerating off-grid renewable energy development. Covering both small and medium enterprises and end-users, different models of financing are being tried and tested. In Cambodia, for instance, a clean energy revolving fund offers access to affordable finance, ranging from USD10 000 to USD100 000, to small enterprises in the agrifood sector to invest in off-grid renewable energy technologies. The fund acts as a de-riksing mechanism for the local financial market for financiers to crowd in once the viability has been demonstrated. Fifteen loans have been disbursed, majority for solarpowered pumping equipment.

Off-grid renewable energy solutions are increasingly attractive for meeting captive energy needs. In the tourism sector, which contributes immensely to local economies in the region, island resorts are shifting towards solar energy to reduce fuel costs and local environmental impacts, increase reliability of supply and reduce the tourism footprint. In Nikoi Island in Indonesia, the displacement of diesel generators and a decrease in energy consumption resulted in a reduction in harmful gas emissions of over 42%. The Qi Palawan Resort, which supplies almost 100% of its annual energy needs with solar PV panels, saves nearly 34 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.


Excerpt of: Off-grid renewable energy solutions: Global and regional status and trends

(IRENA, 2018). Download the full document here.