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Sunergise and Infratec to turn on the power for remote Solomon Islands

Sunergise and New Zealand sustainable energy company Infratec have won a joint bid to deliver renewable electricity generation for the first time to four outer islands in the Solomons.

The project will bring affordable, reliable, and clean energy to people in the remote Malaita, Makira/Ulawa, Sasamunga and Western Provinces, along with significant economic and social gains.

In a 50/50 Joint Venture, Sunergise subsidiary Clay Energy and Infratec will design, procure and build four solar-diesel hybrid power plants over the next two years.

Sunergise Chief Operating Officer Bruce Clay says, “We are looking forward to working with Solomon Power and MFAT in providing sustainable electricity access to the rural communities of the Solomon Islands.”

The project is funded 50/50 by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Solomon Power.

Infratec Chief Executive Greg Visser says the project is about providing electricity and infrastructure on outer islands that currently have limited or no power. “Their goal, and ours, is to realise the economic and societal benefits of renewable energy for the people of the Solomons,” Greg Visser says.

“While the Solomon Islands have renewable energy resources including geothermal, hydro, solar, ocean, and biomass, most of these have not yet been tapped; the country remains almost entirely dependent on imported petroleum fuels, providing 95% of electricity generation,” he says.

The project will bring reliable power to more than 1000 homes as well as hospitals and health clinics, small businesses, schools and vocational training centres.

That means better health services due to lighting in clinics and improved ability to store vaccines, improved education outcomes due to lighting and communication services in schools, improved security due to public lighting, increased economic activity such as small businesses generating additional income and employment opportunities during the project construction stage, and increased empowerment of women, who receive proportionally higher benefits from increased access to energy.

About 35 people will be involved in the design and construction of the four power plants, including about 15 jobs for local people on the ground in the Solomons. The JV partners have committed to employ people from the local communities for the construction phase wherever possible, with a focus on opportunities for women.

The project design stage is beginning straight away and the JV partners expect the first plant to be operating around July next year, with many of the community benefits felt much sooner than that.