Dear Editor – The recent gift of solar panels to the Saranga Community Learning Centre in North West Guadalcanal by the Australian High Commissioner, apart from a being a very welcome gift and energy source, highlights the value of renewable energy for isolated, rural communities.
It will be to the continuing advantage of the Democratic for Change (DCC) Government to reduce the import of fossil fuels given the high cost of importing such supplies and to concentrate, as far as practical, on low-carbon energy strategies.
It is estimated that using Diesel oil to generate electricity for Honiara costs over SBD 1 million per day.
Supplying solar panels are technically feasible options for electricity production in the rural areas of the country and have been proven cost effective in the Solomon Islands, where distances are high and population densities and per capita demand for energy is low.
I know that Australia, the ROC Government and individual MP’s have already given solar energy kits to rural communities across the country but more needs to be done to encourage renewable energy supplies to raise the standard of living and educational needs of people living in the remote regions of the country.
I have little knowledge of coconut biofuel production but did read of a successful operation some time ago of a local company manufacturing such biofuel.
Australia has put much research into the study and development of coconut biofuel and I would hope it would help the government in the Solomon Islands in advancing the technological knowledge to enable more private companies to set up biofuel operations and reduce the burden the government currently faces in importing fossil fuels.
Of course I am following the progress with the development of hydropower and look forward to the day when the Tina Hydropower Development Project will become fully operational and the great benefits it will bring in providing more affordable and reliable energy supplies to Honiara.