In this paper, we argue that renewable energy offers more than simply technological benefits to the energy sector; it also offers an opportunity for distributed energy resources (mini-grids, roof top solar) and community ownership and management of energy resources to advance national power development agendas. We draw on case studies from Cambodia and Vietnam to demonstrate that decentralized renewable energy options can provide rural communities with clean and affordable electricity that also offer a range of social, economic, environmental, technological and political benefits.
Myanmar’s energy planning is highly centralized. The state-managed energy infrastructure has struggled to meet growing demand for electricity and connect populations living in remote regions to the national electricity grid. The 2021 military coup has further undermined the centralized energy system. This paper highlights ongoing exclusions in energy access and evaluates the limitations of centralized electrification, before turning to examine the viability of decentralized offgrid energy options in Myanmar.
This report offers a valuable opportunity to the public and civil society organizations to encourage and push their governments to change the trajectory by which energy is generated, distributed, and accessed. It suggests opening energy systems to more democratic processes that enable people and communities to access sufficient, affordable, reliable, and renewable energy of their choice.
In terms of renewables, hydropower still dominates the regional energy landscape at 63% of renewable energy sources, while solar and wind energy contributed only 9% to the ASEAN energy mix in 2029. This publication briefly describes some key background notes, highlighting the Southeast Asia region’s energy profile, energy poverty, and climate change vulnerability.