Solomon Islands accesses PEC Fund

The Solomon Islands will access close to $US4 million from the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund to setup solar home systems in rural areas.

The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan of ¥6.8 billion (approx US$66 million) to support Forum Island Country (FIC) projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and sea water desalination plants, or a combination of both.

The PEC Fund is administered and managed by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

“The Government of the Solomon Islands will rent the solar home systems to eligible rural households,” explained Henry Pika, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification.

The initiative is expected to expand rural electrification to 2000 unelectrified households in 20 communities, benefitting some 10,600 people in the Solomon Islands.

According to the population and housing census conducted in 2009, 74.6% of the Solomon Islands’ population utilises kerosene as the primary source of energy for basic lighting.

“Thanks to the PEC Fund, our people should benefit from brighter, safer, cleaner and renewable energy through solar home systems,” said Mr Pika. “We are extremely grateful for this initiative and would like to thank the Government of Japan and the Forum Secretariat for assisting with this important project.”

Mr Pika added that to ensure sustainability and successful implementation, the project will adopt a Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) scheme.

“Although ownership of the home solar systems will remain with the Government of the Solomon Islands, installation, operation and maintenance will be handled by RESCO, a private-sector entity,” explained Mr Pika.

“Furthermore, part of the monthly solar home system rental fee will go towards a parts replacement fund,” he said, with the fund expected to be financially sound to replace the system’s batteries after the first two years of operation if needed.

The initiative will also feature an option of barter trade to pay the solar home system monthly usage fee.

“Considering the fact that our rural communities are often cash-strapped, the RESCO scheme will be modified to allow an innovative Barter Trade System, allowing users to trade agricultural produce, such as cassava, dalo and bananas, as a substitute for monthly fees,” said Mr Pika

The project will be initially implemented by Japanese company Inter Action Corporation (IAC), which will be responsible for providing local users and technicians with expertise to eventually independently manage the initiative.

To date, the Governments of Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru and the Solomon Islands have successfully accessed the PEC Fund for renewable energy projects.

The PEC Fund is guided by a Joint Committee (JC), chaired by the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat and comprising senior representatives of the Japanese Government and the Forum Secretariat. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprising nominated experts in the fields of climate change, renewable energy, water and sanitation appraises project proposals and makes recommendations to the JC.

ENDS

For media enquiries contact Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Media Officer on phone 679 331 2600 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj