Extending rural electrification in Asia

ABB expanded its rural electrification program, known as “Access to Electricity” in two parts of Asia during 2015, helping to deliver reliable solar energy to several thousand people in remote areas.

ABB has been involved for a decade in a project in Rajasthan, India, working with state authorities and a non-governmental organization to provide distributed solar power to remote desert villages in the Bamer region. In the first phase of the project, approximately 1,200 households, covering 7,000 people, were provided with solar panels, batteries, lights, and wiring to replace the traditional more costly, and less healthy, form of lighting using kerosene.

Access to electricity has improved the lives of villagers, enabling weavers and tailors who are now able to work after dark to increase their incomes by up to 50 percent; it has improved access to education and health with schools and clinics staying open longer. Nurses at health clinics can also give advice on their electrically-charged mobile phones to patients over long distances.

In 2015 the project was expanded to include another 500 households across five villages in the same area. Every household is being provided with a package that includes a solar panel, two lamps, a portable lamp, wall switches, a control unit and a re-chargeable battery. ABB is training the villagers how to maintain the batteries.

In another off-grid electrification project in Myanmar, ABB has teamed up with a non-profit organization Pact Myanmar to bring solar light to a village near Mandalay. The project will establish solar-powered battery charging stations for the community of some 3,000 people, and ABB and Pact Myanmar will also provide financial support to the villagers to help them buy solar equipment.

The project is expected to strengthen economic development, pave the way for progress in education and healthcare, and also improve safety in village huts. “I am excited. Now we don’t need to worry about the fire hazard from using candles,” said a 70-year-old resident of Wun Pa Tae village.

The project was announced in March 2015 to coincide with the arrival in Mandalay of the Solar Impulse plane, on the latest stage of its round-the-world flight powered by solar energy.

ABB’s Access to Electricity program has been running for over a decade, providing off-grid electrical solutions to communities in different parts of India and Africa.