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Community-Based Mini-Grid Operation

Locally managed × Locally sustainable

 

Our mission is to enable local communities to manage and operate community mini-grid while saving money on maintenance and operational costs, offsetting rural diesel consumption, and serving more households with reliable electricity.


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locally-managed diesel mini-grids in Myanmar

 

The mini-grid market in Myanmar is globally exceptional. These systems are a unique opportunity to better understand and strengthen community-based management models, and represents the potential for more holistic and sustainable energy development.  While these diesel mini-grids are an opportunity, they have challenges:
 

  • INEFFICIENT  sub-optimal initial design and capacity gap
     
  • EXPENSIVE  reliant on diesel and often run at a loss
     
  • LIMITED SERVICE  operators can't afford to run year-round
     
  • EMISSIONS  lack of financing for cleaner alternatives
 

Solution

Mee Panyar is pioneering a novel community-based business model for operations, maintenance and workforce training for rural mini-grids, starting in Myanmar. Leveraging the country’s existing 13,000 diesel mini-grids as learning tools for rural electricians, Mee Panyar will rehabilitate or hybridize these systems while filling the capacity gap in long-term operations and maintenance (O&M), which has been de-prioritized in recent national energy planning. While some are old and operating at low efficiency, many of these sites can be refurbished to use modern, efficient, reliable equipment for considerably less cost than building greenfield projects.

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community-based business model

Mee Panyar will enter into a service agreement with village partners or the private owner of a community's mini-grid to establish the terms of the project, both during the rehabilitation phase and for the lifetime of the system. This service agreement will also specify that village partners continue to hold liability for operational expenses, specified data reporting requirements, and a service fee payable to Mee Panyar in the form of a revenue percentage. 

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TRAINING PRODUCT & CURRICULUM

Mee Panyar's educational kit will capture lessons from earlier capacity-building and vocational training fieldwork, and training sessions will be adaptive to local knowledge and the technical specifications of each village’s proposed system. This B2B product could be sold to off-grid developers as an all-inclusive training package, bundled with training session hours, enabling them to build O&M capacity in their own projects.

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SOLAR-DIESEL HYBRIDIZATION

Through the training, technicians will complete system hybridization, alongside Mee Panyar's engineering team. We expect to see and improvement to quality and cost of service through adding solar hybridization. Beyond the benefits of reducing dependence on diesel and lowering carbon emissions, solar hybridization allows for the mini-grid to operate for increased hours of service, spreading demand across the day and supporting productive uses of energy.

 

Impact

Through our participatory education program and apprenticeship model, locally employed operators who manage and maintain the system can perform frequent and preventative maintenance, significantly reducing O&M costs and extending system lifetimes. Mee Panyar's lean approach is designed to address the underlying local capacity deficit and returns control over the system's reliability in the community’s hands.

 
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50% increase in hours of electricity service

Reduced outages increase consumer satisfaction and community buy-in. This also translates to increased productivity and feasibility of productive use.

 
 
 

500% increase in technician income

Electrical technician (or "meesayar") could go from earning max 10,000 Kyat per job, to earning 50,000 Kyat per job through regular frequency work and greater range of potential jobs. 

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80% decrease in operational costs

Regular preventative maintenance can cover 80% of a diesel system's lifetime maintenance costs for the operator. 

 

Team 

The Mee Panyar team is comprised of highly skilled and driven young professionals with extensive experiences across the energy access value chain and a strong commitment to developing and executing community-based approaches. 

  Natasha Allen |  Founder & Executive Director  Natasha has recognized expertise in developing training programs for solar education and a strong technical background that she has employed in improved cookstoves M&E with Potential Energy and servicing and maintenance strategy with We Care Solar. Natasha was awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for her research in best practices for building capacity and ensuring sustainability in energy access interventions. She holds a BSc in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and is completing a MSc in Engineering for International Development at University College London. 

Natasha Allen | Founder & Executive Director

Natasha has recognized expertise in developing training programs for solar education and a strong technical background that she has employed in improved cookstoves M&E with Potential Energy and servicing and maintenance strategy with We Care Solar. Natasha was awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for her research in best practices for building capacity and ensuring sustainability in energy access interventions. She holds a BSc in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and is completing a MSc in Engineering for International Development at University College London. 

  Benjamin Attia |  Market Development & Strategy  Benjamin has recognized subject-matter expertise in renewable energy policy and markets and community-based finance and long-term O&M business models for off-grid and mini-grid projects. He authors regular solar industry research publications and provides market research, and bespoke strategy advisory to key stakeholders in on-grid and off-grid solar markets in emerging economies at GTM Research. Ben has experience working in PV asset management and commercial operations at SunEdison.

Benjamin Attia | Market Development & Strategy

Benjamin has recognized subject-matter expertise in renewable energy policy and markets and community-based finance and long-term O&M business models for off-grid and mini-grid projects. He authors regular solar industry research publications and provides market research, and bespoke strategy advisory to key stakeholders in on-grid and off-grid solar markets in emerging economies at GTM Research. Ben has experience working in PV asset management and commercial operations at SunEdison.

  Nithya Menon |  Technology   Nithya has employed her rigorous technical background and commitment to people-centered design in India, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Mali. She has developed and implemented water access and agricultural products and services with organizations such as Proximity Designs and iDE. These experiences allow her to approach problems with more than just a technical mindset and help her work passionately towards solutions that create sustainable impact. Nithya has a wide range of technical skills, earning her engineering degree from Harvey Mudd College.

Nithya Menon | Technology 

Nithya has employed her rigorous technical background and commitment to people-centered design in India, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Mali. She has developed and implemented water access and agricultural products and services with organizations such as Proximity Designs and iDE. These experiences allow her to approach problems with more than just a technical mindset and help her work passionately towards solutions that create sustainable impact. Nithya has a wide range of technical skills, earning her engineering degree from Harvey Mudd College.

   Dustin Zubke |  Business Development   Dustin Zubke's work and research in the clean energy sector have brought him to 11 different countries. He is driven to address two of the most pressing global problems: climate change and inequality.  While in Myanmar, he performed an assessment of 45 villages' potential for solar-powered mini-grid development with Yoma Micropower. In addition to his own work in rural clean energy development, he brings more attention to the work of others as the off-grid solar correspondent for PV Magazine. Dustin obtained a BSc in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and is pursuing a Master's in Engineering for International Development at University College London.

Dustin Zubke | Business Development

Dustin Zubke's work and research in the clean energy sector have brought him to 11 different countries. He is driven to address two of the most pressing global problems: climate change and inequality.  While in Myanmar, he performed an assessment of 45 villages' potential for solar-powered mini-grid development with Yoma Micropower. In addition to his own work in rural clean energy development, he brings more attention to the work of others as the off-grid solar correspondent for PV Magazine. Dustin obtained a BSc in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and is pursuing a Master's in Engineering for International Development at University College London.

  Jack Pegler |  Operations  Jack spent over 4 years as a key manager in one of Cambodia’s leading solar energy, NRG Solutions, companies were he was in charge of all off grid activities. Extensive experience coordinating work in the field has given him an excellent understanding of the challenges faced by the field teams working in energy access, allowing him to develop the tools and guidelines necessary to ensure that our business model is implemented correctly. Jack holds a Master’s degree in Particle Physics from University College London.

Jack Pegler | Operations

Jack spent over 4 years as a key manager in one of Cambodia’s leading solar energy, NRG Solutions, companies were he was in charge of all off grid activities. Extensive experience coordinating work in the field has given him an excellent understanding of the challenges faced by the field teams working in energy access, allowing him to develop the tools and guidelines necessary to ensure that our business model is implemented correctly. Jack holds a Master’s degree in Particle Physics from University College London.

 
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Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or comments. For further information on Mee Panyar's approach, download our position paper by completing the form below.

 
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