THE need to access cheap renewable energy in the pacific is getting Asian Development Bank (ADB) talking and planning into investing in wave power as an option for energy provision in the future.
According to ADB’s senior Pacific energy specialist Anthony Maxwell, renewable energy is fast becoming a viable option for Pacific Island countries in terms of access to energy and electricity.
He was speaking at the ADB Pacific business media summit last week in Sydney, Australia.
“The Pacific region can expect a new kind of energy technology in the next decade following the revelation of efforts to introduce wave power.
“Looking long-term from five-10 years, we are talking specifically about wave power, which is in a similar situation as solar power some 10-15 years ago,” he said.
He explained that the market is still moving into this new technology. But when the time is right and the project is up and running the cost for energy will drop.
“The market hasn’t quite sorted the appropriate technology (for this) — the market is still working out the most efficient technology.
“Once the market works out the efficient technology and investment comes in a large way, you’ll see prices come down in the way of power.”
Mr Maxwell highlighted that with abundant ocean in the region there is potential to develop this wave energy.
“In the Pacific, wave power is very attractive because most of the population is along the coastline and in many cases isolated so it’s very difficult to get a transmission grid into these places.
“But once the price of wave power comes down, you can put wave power as baseload off the coast — it’ll be very good for the Pacific.”
He also noted that countries that have invested in renewable energy about two decades ago are now enjoying the benefits of cheap electricity supply in the Pacific.
In the short-term, Mr Maxwell said they expected to see more solar panels on the roofs of government buildings and paddocks beside power plants.
“You will start seeing ground-mounted solar panels.”
The energy specialist also noted the move to invest in hydro-power energy in the pacific.
“There is still some hydro power investment left in the Pacific and any country that has that is scrambling to look at that because generally hydro power is the cheapest form of renewable energy,” he said.
In Solomon Islands ADB will be assisting the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA) with the construction of the Fiu River Hydropower project in Malaita.
This project aims to supply power to Auki and its surrounding communities.
By MOFFAT MAMU