1. This project aims to facilitate increased access to electricity in rural communities in the Solomon Islands.
2. Providing electricity access in rural communities can be successfully achieved through renewable energy systems, of which many examples exist. Policies and regulatory frameworks are however usually required to gain wide deployment.
3. The project will utilize UNDP’s Derisking Renewable Energy Investment (DREI) programme to assess RE electricity generation project proposals, mainly in off-grid areas, as an alternative to diesel generation systems which are costly, and have associated climate and environmental impacts.
4. Most of the funding, including USD 12.5M of co-financing by the Ministry of Mines, Energy and RE Electrification, will be invested in RE generation and energy efficient electricity projects to demonstrate how a range of barriers can be overcome. Capacity building and a service industry are critical for operation and maintenance of the projects continuing after completion of this 4-year project and is a key component of it.
5. Existing RE project plans are in place, (mainly solar PV and wind power, though not always successful if developed by NGOs and local communities), to help meet the National Energy Policy target of 35% rural community access to electricity by 2020. However, the lack of a regulatory framework has limited private sector involvement and consumer protection. This project will support the Ministry and Electricity Authority provide greater incentives through financial mechanisms, improve energy planning, and increase the bankability of future projects.
6. Technical barriers are outlined, but data are limited since a resource assessment of geothermal, hydro and bioenergy potentials does not appear to have been carried out. This should be the first step. The 2 specific and remote locations of some of these resources can restrict their development unless an investment is also made in costly infrastructure. Ocean energy is mentioned as an option, but it is currently not yet proven to be commercially viable (whether for wave, currents, or thermal gradients). Tidal range projects are operating successfully in France and South Korea, but a range of around 8m is available there, which is not the case in the Solomons. (For more information on ocean energy see Chapter 6 of http://ipcc.ch/report/srren/).
7. Overall, STAP acknowledges that the concept has merit on scientific or technical grounds. STAP is satisfied with the scientific and technical quality of the proposal and encourages the proponent to develop it with the same rigor. At any time during the development of the project, the proponent is invited to approach STAP to consult on the design.