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Papua New Guinea Set to Pilot Rooftop Solar Program in Port Moresby

International Finance Corporation and PNG Power Limited have begun consultations with business on expanding renewable energy sources in Papua New Guinea with a proposal for a pilot rooftop solar program in the capital, Port Moresby.

The move follows a request by PNG Power for IFC to build on its successful off-grid solar program, Lighting PNG, to help the power company’s business customers access a pilot program with aim to initially allow about two percent of peak demand for electricity in Port Moresby to be generated from rooftop solar.

“This move represents a significant change for Papua New Guinea, as to date, it has been illegal for businesses to install and generate power from rooftop solar,” said IFC’s Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea, John Vivian. “But now that the costs of rooftop solar systems have dropped by about 80 percent in the last five years, it makes commercial sense for business to look at this source of renewable energy and it is good for the environment.”

“PNG Power wants to work proactively to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change,” said PNG Power’s Bruce Corbet, Director of Strategic Planning & Business Development. “With Papua New Guinea the first country to lodge its national plan under the Paris Agreement, we take our responsibility seriously but need the expertise of IFC to help us. IFC have implemented similar projects in other countries with great success and we want to build on what they already know here in Port Moresby.”

Under its national plan, Papua New Guinea plans to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. With less than 20% of Papua New Guineans currently having access to an electricity grid, Papua New Guinea presents one of the most challenging and undeserved energy markets in the world.

IFC’s Lighting PNG program has seen about 20 percent of the population gain access to basic lighting and mobile phone charging services for the first time. IFC believes with some 300 plus days of sunshine each year, it makes sense to consider rooftop solar to generate electricity to help meet needs and the country’s renewable energy targets.

Under the initiative, supported by donors, Australia and New Zealand, IFC and PNG Power are in consultations with business on a draft rooftop solar policy, before finalising and implementing the pilot in the capital.

“The aim is to learn from the experience of a pilot in Port Moresby,” Corbet said. “Based on the interest we’ve already had from other centers such as Popondetta, Madang and Wewak, PNG Power anticipates the pilot program could be expanded outside Port Moresby.”

The pilot program deals specifically with solar PV systems that are synchronised to PNG Power’s grid and can meet consumer demand, as and when required. Initially solar PV systems will only be allowed to connect in limited numbers and under specific conditions so that the technical and commercial impacts on PNG Power’s system can be carefully monitored and managed.

Source: Press Release

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