The Solomon Islands continue to lead by example as the Governor General Residence has been fitted with new solar panels as part of the “Solarization of Residences of Pacific Heads of State Project”.

This $1.3 million USD programme is funded by the Government of India with support from the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSCC) and nonprofit Solar Head of State (SHOS). The Solomon Islands joins Fiji, Tonga, and Tuvalu in successfully solarizing their heads of state.

An inclusive initiative meant to develop inter/intra-regional cooperation between Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, PIDF, UNOSCC, and UNDP are committed to fostering multi-stakeholder engagements across the Pacific.

The photovoltaic units were donated by manufacturer Solaria through a public-private partnership to highlight the benefits of solar energy and the development of green jobs.

In its final report on the project, UNDP notes: “During interviews, stakeholders revealed that several national governments, such as those of Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tokelau, had expressed interest in replicating the project’s successful models in their public buildings. The project’s successful practices could also be replicated in island countries in the Caribbean and Indian and Atlantic oceans. It is likely that private buildings will replicate [this model, and the project has] made policymakers aware of the need to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy to meet energy-sector goals and climate change mitigation targets.”

Since the launch of the inaugural pilot project in Fiji, the UNDP, PIDF and their partners are carrying out similar initiatives across the region in the Federated State of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands, and Vanuatu.

The project will also train local staff, laborers, and volunteers, who will assist with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the panel.

Every aspect of the project has been created to empower local communities by providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in their communities.

The Solomon Islands like many Pacific Island countries, faces multiple energy challenges, including:

  • Limited range of indigenous energy resources;
  • High cost of developing energy resources and extending service to remote populations;
  • Poor quality of energy data and trends;
  • A small base of skilled people to address the issues; and
  • Weak bargaining positions with petroleum suppliers.

Many Pacific nations have set ambitious targets for reducing their CO2 emissions by 2030 and transitioning to nearly 100% renewable energy sources. Solar energy is particularly attractive due to its cost-effectiveness, with technology costs having decreased by 80% over the past decade and less operation and maintenance.

While the annual reduction of approximately 450 tons of CO2 from the installation of 240 kW rooftop solar systems on these 12 buildings may not be substantial, it carries significant policy implications for promoting rooftop solar throughout the region.

Electricity production accounts for roughly 40% of petroleum fuel use in the Pacific region. High fossil fuel costs can hamper countries and remote communities, limiting their ability to electrify the region and maintain stable energy supply.

Transitioning to readily available renewable energy like solar will help reduce costs and provide energy for local communities, while also providing green jobs, encouraging sustainable development and combating climate change.

James Ellsmoor, Chairman of Solar Head of State and CEO of Island Innovation commented: “The solarization taking place in the Pacific highlights how impactful renewable energy implementation can be for island communities.

Being able to demonstrate the benefits of solar and empowering local stakeholders through associated training programmes enables them to more effectively identify development opportunities in their communities - this is where the long-term value of this project lies. Supporting capacity and resilience-building in the Pacific is key. Policymaking and technology are obviously key, but investing in people is critical.” 



Source: Press Release, Island Innovation