How do you provide a service when neither the provider nor the customer has a good sense of the demand? This is one of the main challenges facing the off-grid energy industry in Myanmar, a country where less than 40 percent of the population currently has access to modern energy services.
By comparison, sizing a solar system for a home or business that already has power is straightforward. It is simply a matter of getting meter readings for the past year to determine how much energy the customer typically uses and when.
There are also several market failures that further distort demand for energy in Myanmar, as well as in other countries that are struggling to expand access to electricity. In particular, the high upfront cost of connecting to a mini-grid (typically $150 to $200), or to the national grid, for that matter (typically more than $500 per household), can be a major impediment for households and small businesses.