The move by PNG Power, with the support of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and donors Australia and New Zealand, marks a significant change in policy. Until now, it was illegal for Papua New Guinean businesses to install and generate power from roof top solar panels.
“Now large commercial and industrial businesses in the capital, Port Moresby, can apply to have solar PV systems connected to the grid, under the first phase of the scheme,” said PNG Power’s Acting CEO, Douglas Mageo.
“Solar PV systems have the potential to reduce the cost of power supply in Papua New Guinea and reduce carbon emissions through less reliance on diesel.
“With Papua New Guinea aiming to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, this pilot scheme in Port Moresby will serve as a test run, so we can carefully manage the technical and commercial impacts on PNG Power’s systems.”
Under the initiative, commercial and industrial businesses in Port Moresby can apply to install panels on a first-come-first-serve basis subject to technical viability. The trial will initially allow about two percent of peak demand in Port Moresby to be generated from rooftop solar.
“Port Moresby is one of the sunniest locations in Papua New Guinea, with about 2,500 hours of sunshine a year,” said IFC’s Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea, John Vivian. “With Papua New Guinea one of the most expensive places in the world for power, it makes sense to use rooftop solar to generate electricity to help meet energy needs and the country’s renewable energy targets.”
IFC has been supporting PNG Power to develop the scheme and prior to the launch of the trial, IFC supported a hands-on training program for PNG power staff on managing the rooftop solar scheme, with further training planned for the future.
The pilot program deals specifically with solar PV systems that are synchronized to PNG Power’s grid and can meet consumer demand, as and when required.
The initiative follows a request by PNG Power for IFC to build on its successful off-grid solar program, Lighting PNG, to help PNG Power’s business customers access a pilot roof top solar program.
Lighting PNG has already helped 22 percent of the population – 1.8 million people – in Papua New Guinea gain access to phone charging and basic solar lighting solutions for the first time.
PNG Power Limited and IFC are also joining forces to deliver lower cost and more reliable power to remote and outer island centres, not connected to the country’s two main electricity grids.
With only about 13 percent of Papua New Guineans currently having access to an electricity grid, Papua New Guinea presents one of the most challenging and underserved energy markets in the world.