3 July 2019
Solomon Islands: Meeting a 50% renewable energy target by 2020
Yesterday, I read that a Pacific climate change specialist, Espen Ronneberg, from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme had said it was a disappointing outcome for the Pacific at the two-week-long climate meeting in Bonn as the region’s representatives had their goals frustrated.
The UN climate meeting in Bonn concluded on Thursday, with negotiators backing a dramatic climate change report.
The report from October urged countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees over the 2 degrees of the earlier Paris Agreement.
But in Bonn, a group of fossil fuel producers blocked some agreement on the text and no emissions targets were set.
"It was a very stressful process for the Pacific delegations, they really wanted to have this report, properly, endorsed by the process, so that the relevant decision-making processes such as on climate change financing would take that report into account," Mr. Ronnenberg commented.
Source: Radio New Zealand.
After reading that report, my attention became focused on Solomon Islands ongoing need for climate change financing.
I know the Solomon Islands government has pledged in its National Energy Policy to have a renewable energy target of 50% by 2020 but wonder whether enough climate change financing is being secured to attain the 50% target and, especially concerned how the outcome of the Bonn conference might now influence the availability of adequate funds.
In 2014, I recall the Solomon Islands government, through the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Mines, Energy & Rural Electrification, wrote to the Program Manager of the Administrative Unit of the Climate Investment Funds, via the World Bank in Washington, USA, and sent a copy of what I then observed to be a very comprehensive investment plan for help in scaling-up renewable energy in the Solomon Islands.
That report cited how in the Solomons Islands energy was a key driver so essential for economic growth, social development and for the improvement of the livelihoods of communities.
The report went into detail how the Solomon Islands had its own challenges and opportunities in terms of the energy situation.
It mentioned in particular, the extremely low national electricity coverage, high energy costs and the high dependency on imported fossil fuel, exacerbated by the geographical spread of the archipelagic nature of the country, which impacted on the economic and social development.
The SIG is committed I believe in pursuing sustainable economic development in line with the National Development Strategies 2011-2020, but is adequate finance reaching the government by way of scaling-up renewable energy funding and what renewable energy projects, such as solar power generation are in place or being implemented?
I do know that a New Zealand sustainable energy company recently won a joint bid to deliver electricity generation to four remote communities in Malaita, Makira and the Western Province.
That project will be funded 50/50 by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Solomon Power.
It has been said and, often, that energy costs in the Solomons are amongst the highest in the world and the highest in the Pacific. The high cost of electricity and the limited reach of the distribution grid are slowing economic growth and hampering community development.
Also, frequently quoted, is the fact that while the Solomon Islands have renewable energy resources including geothermal, hydro, solar, ocean, and biomass, most of these have not yet been tapped; the country remains almost entirely dependent on imported petroleum fuels, providing 95% of electricity generation.
In 2014 the then existing policy and regulatory environment was perceived as limiting development of renewable energy by inhibiting investment, including private investment in renewable generation.
Could it be explained what now, in 2019, is changed to see more renewable energy generation and enable the Solomon Islands to attain the 50 % renewable energy target by next year?