Honiara, Solomon Islands – The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE), Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a renewable energy for rural electrification project.
The Stimulating Progress towards Improved Rural Electrification in the Solomons (SPIRES) will facilitate the achievement of increased access to electricity in rural communities in the Solomon Islands. It is focused on the enhanced application of low carbon technologies, techniques and practices to support Solomon Islands’ rural electrification program, particularly in achieving the set target of 35 percent electricity access in rural areas in line with the government’s rural electrification policy.
Permanent Secretary of MMERE Dr. Chris Vehe said, “MMERE appreciates the project as the objective supports the national energy policy to increase access to electricity in rural communities in a sustainable way.”
“SPIRES is timely, as it will synergise well with SIEAREEP with the ultimate aim to develop a national rural electrification programme,” Dr Vehe said.
Permanent Secretary of MECDM Dr. Melchior Mataki said, ”From climate change mitigation perspective, the project will simultaneously contribute to reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as per the National Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, and enhance access to affordable power in rural areas using renewable energy sources.”
UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager Mr. Berdi Berdiyev noted that UNDP’s work on energy corresponds to the main targets of SDG 7 on energy: ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; work with countries to make energy systems and usage more efficient; and work to increase the global share of renewable energy.
“This pilot initiative funded by the Global Environmental Facility will demonstrate the transformative impact that greater use of renewables can have on remote communities, the environment, and the economy of Solomon Islands,” Mr. Berdiyev stated.
He reiterated UNDP’s commitment to supporting Solomon Islands to making access to sustainable and renewable energy accessible to all.
Eighty percent of Solomon Islanders live in rural areas and have limited access to electricity. Only around five percent of the half a million population of the country access electricity.
SPIRES was designed in line with the following major strategies:
- Review, improvement, approval and enforcement of appropriate policy, planning and regulatory frameworks that will support enhanced and accelerated electrification of the off-grid areas in the country;
- Development and enforcement of suitable institutional and financial mechanisms in the integrated planning and implementation of rural electrification in the country;
- Development and implementation of cost-effective demonstrations of various schemes for rural electrification in the off-grid areas involving the private sector, CSOs, NGOs and local communities; and;
- Design and conduct of information, communication and education activities to improve levels of awareness and knowledge of the government, private sector and citizenry on climate resilient and low carbon development of off-grid areas.
The project was launched on November 12, 2020.