The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on November 22 approved financing to support the Government of Solomon Islands and Solomon Power to convert electricity networks in five provinces almost entirely to solar power.
The Solar Power Development Project will construct grid-connected solar plants in five provinces: Kirakira, Lata, Malu’u, Munda, and Tulagi. The project will be funded by a $2.24 million grant from ADB, $6.2 million grant from the Strategic Climate Fund, and $6.76 million from the government. The project will be the first solar power project in Solomon Islands to install battery storage, which will allow electricity to be stored from the sun during the day to power the provincial towns at night. The project will reduce the need for costly shipments of diesel to the provincial centers.
“Reliance on diesel generation has resulted in a high cost of electricity in the Solomon Islands, which is constraining economic growth, particularly in the commercial and tourism sectors,” said Anthony Maxwell, Principal Energy Specialist at ADB’s Pacific Department. “This project will help Solomon Islands reduce the cost of generating power, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions which lead to global warming.”
The project will install about 2 megawatt of solar power generation capacity, which will consist of ground mounted rows of solar panels within or near the townships of Kirakira, Lata, Malu’u, Munda, and Tulagi. The project is part of a broader program by Solomon Power to expand electricity access to rural communities through renewable energy-based grids, according to ADB.
The modular structure of solar power plants makes them suitable for future expansion to accommodate growing demand. The project design includes oversized sites and connection equipment for future expansion, and Solomon Power staff training on solar plant operation and maintenance.