Only 16 percent of rural houses in Myanmar have access to electricity, but that’s about to change. A government-led project aided by private companies could power up the entire country, in part by using off-grid solar energy. The electricity could irrigate rice farms, provide lighting in homes, and save lives.

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Off-grid solar could energize communities all across Myanmar. As traditional alternative power sources like diesel generators are far too expensive for many people who live in poverty in the country, government-funded off-grid solar could offer cost-effective, clean electricity for more people.

Related: Off-grid healthcare housing is powered entirely by solar in Burundi

Non-profit organizations are financing Myanmar solar projects too. With charity funds via Mitsui & Co., electronics company Panasonic recently installed a Power Supply Container in the settlement of Yin Ma Chaung. The off-grid station generates 2.82 kilowatts of energy for the settlement and nearby villages. This power is critical for Yin Ma Chaung, an area populated with deadly snakes. Lifesaving antivenom must be refrigerated, but many people were losing their lives before obtaining solar power since the community previously only had coolers that frequently broke down. A portion of the newly installed solar power systems will provide energy for a community center refrigerator filled with the antivenom, allowing locals to breathe easier as they go about their daily lives.

That’s just one project among thousands, according to The Guardian. Renewable energy company Sunlabob set up 11 solar mini-grids that will provide power for nearly 1,000 homes. Another renewable energy company, Myanmar Eco Solutions, installed a solar-fueled irrigation system for rice farmers in remote Myanmar.

Out of 188 countries on the United Nation’s benchmark development index, Myanmar is 148. Although citizens there still wrestle with poverty, clean, renewable electricity could provide the boost the country needs to develop.

Via The Guardian

Images via Sunlabob Facebook and Panasonic