Innovative solutions to boost renewables can strengthen energy security and improve quality of life in the country, according to new report.
Honiara, Solomon Islands, 6 February 2024 – The Renewables Readiness Assessment (RRA): Solomon Islands undertaken by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE), through the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative (LHI) finds that renewable energy presents multifaceted opportunities to improve the quality of life and to reduce fossil fuels dependence in Solomon Islands.
With an electricity access rate of 76%, the Solomon Islands continues to grapple with energy security and sustainability, especially in the outer islands and remote communities. These challenges are compounded by rapid population growth and a high poverty ranking. Fossil fuel imports, which currently sustain a substantial portion of the nation’s energy needs, pose a significant financial burden. The new report finds that accelerated deployment of renewables and the uptake of energy transition innovative solutions in the Solomon Islands can address the challenges.
To drive action towards accelerated energy transition, the government already aspires to achieve 100% electricity access and zero emissions by 2050. Understanding the multi-benefits of the transition, the government seeks to enhance the Solomon Islanders quality of life by fostering employment, income generation, improved healthcare, improved access to information and communication technology (ICT), healthcare, education and strengthen agri-food including fisheries and water security and the expansion of the tourism sector.
The Assessment highlights the untapped potential of renewables coupled with energy efficiency interventions and other innovative solutions can offer the country significantly cheaper alternatives to imported fossil fuels. Currently, 0.34 MW of solar energy capacity and 4.13 MW of hydropower already contribute to the country’s energy mix.
The report was launched today in Honiara in front of high-level representatives from the government, development partners and other key stakeholders. Opening the launch event, IRENA Director of Country Engagement and Partnerships, Mr. Gurbuz Gonul, said, “Through this action-oriented assessment, the Solomon Islands are charting a way forward to fast-track their energy transition, uplifting the quality of life for their citizens and fostering economic growth and resilience through enhanced energy security. Moving forward, IRENA remains committed to provide support during the post-RRA phase and to actively collaborate with partners through the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative to translate these recommendations into action.”
In launching the report, Mr. Daniel Rove, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification stated, “The country commits to restructure its current electricity delivery approach by imposing the right policy direction to our context to reform our governance over the sector. This is to encourage the right partnerships, investments and innovations on harnessing our renewable energy resources for the sustainable socio-economic development of the country.”
The Solomon Islands’ forward strategy recommended by this report involves significant investments and collaborative partnerships across various sectors. The Assessment outlines seven priority areas, including restructuring the electricity grid; setting technical standards for resilient off-grid renewable energy; creating innovative funding mechanisms; developing markets for electric mobility; coordinating renewable energy implementation in key sectors; promoting energy efficiency; and fostering partnerships for innovative solutions.
During the same event, IRENA is also launching the addition of selected area in Honiara to the SolarCity Simulator through a training and awareness workshop with stakeholders. The SolarCity Simulator is an online platform that allows its users – homeowners, investors, and authorities – to assess the technical and financial viability of installing solar photovoltaics (PV) on buildings. The free tool allows users to test different system designs, policy instruments and incentive schemes to deploy rooftop solar PV, that could lead to potential economic savings and social-environmental benefits.
For more on the recommendation, please read the Renewables Readiness Assessment: Solomon Islands.