5 June 2018
MITIGATING THE USE OF COSTLY IMPORTED FOSSIL FUELS
The Solomon Islands is heavily dependent on costly fossil fuel imports, so I was pleased to read last month that the PM had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Solomon Power and Hitachi Ltd.
The MOU was aimed at resolving energy issues in the Solomon Islands and facilitating Hitachi Ltd and Solomon Power venturing into collaborative construction to design a solar power plant with, other stakeholders, in the country.
At the time of signing the MOU, Prime Minister Hou said Solomon Power would be assisted to lower the cost of energy generation thereby reducing the electricity tariff and to improve energy security for the country.
While I see the signing of the MOU as a very welcome step there remains a gap between the renewable energy aspirations of the government and the ability of public funds to invest both stronger and more resilient networks and renewable energy generation.
Improving access to climate finance could provide additional means to support renewable energy and mitigate climate change.
I do not have recent figures on percentage renewable electricity energy in the Solomon Islands but in the period 2013-2016 renewable electricity generation grew from less than 1% to 5%.
While the 4% growth was notable comparison figures for other small island states for the same period were much higher.
Tuvalu’s renewable electricity generation rose from 4% 43%.
In the Cook Islands renewable electricity generation rose from 4% to 15%.
Clearly, more needs to be done to develop long term electricity system development plans that identify least-cost renewable generation sources and reduce carbon emissions but this will not an easy task given the Solomon Islands long-term dependency on fossil fuel imports for electricity generation and transportation use and a particularly weak economy.
Nevertheless, the signing of the MOU with Hitachi and Solomon Power was a step in the right direction, as indeed is the ongoing project for the Tina River Hydro Power scheme continuing to be funded substantially by Australia.