Technical and economic evaluation of an off-grid solar desalination system in Myanmar

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Myanmar is a unique country where the majority of the people live in rural areas, away from grid electricity and reliable water supplies. The penetration of grid electricity in rural areas is minimal and even then it is often erratic. This paper focuses on the challenges of transitioning from an electricity-poor country to a renewable energy based-economy augmented with photovoltaics (PV). Based on optimization modelling and assessments of Myanmar's current energy barriers, we examine the feasibility of PV-powered desalination systems for the Ayeyarwady region and Tanintharyi region. An analysis of the technical and economic feasibility of a stand-alone solar-powered desalination system indicates that the needed price of water for economic sustainability should be approximately US$0.0224/litre. From our economic modelling, we found that the major capital cost is the installation of PV and maintenance. The major operating cost is maintenance of batteries. Minor operating costs are membrane replacement and PV maintenance. The country's limited capital inhibits the creation of these systems, and foreign investment or incentives from international financial institutions will be needed to secure off-grid, clean energy solutions for Myanmar.

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