New Britain Palm Oil proposes public-private partnership to provide power for West New Britain


New Britain Palm Oil Limited and the West New Britain provincial government have held preliminary talks which could see electricity generated from the company’s waste products provided across the entire province.

Biogas collection at New Britain Palm Oil's operations in West New Britain. Credit: NBPOL

Biogas collection at New Britain Palm Oil’s operations in West New Britain. Credit: NBPOL

There is a great opportunity for West New Britain to be solely powered by green energy in future years according to Harry Brock, General Manager of New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL) operations in the province.

NBPOL is in negotiations to greatly increase the supply of electricity from its own power generation facilities for both the town of Kimbe and rural areas in West New Britain.

‘The concept would be based around a Public Private Partnership involving NBPOL (as a supplier of power), the provincial government and PNG Power,’ Brock tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘The idea is that a newly formed partnership would take full responsibility and ownership for the power needs of the province.

‘It could also provide an opportunity for a private company to be formed involving local stakeholders.’


There would be two energy sources: methane and palm kernel, both by-products from NBPOL’s palm oil plant.

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‘In 2010, we commenced the project to build biogas power plants at two of our five processing mills in West New Britain,’ Brock says.

The investment was approximately US$8 million (K19.85 million).

‘The combined output for both sites is 4.2 megawatts of power, just from methane gas,’ says Brock.

‘If we built three more biogas projects on the remaining mills in West New Britain, it would give us a total capacity of 10 megawatts from methane gas.

Power for provincial capital

‘A good part of this could be used for the Kimbe grid.

‘The current requirement for the Kimbe grid, which supplies only the provincial capital, is 4.5 megawatts, so there would be plenty of capacity to expand the grid to rural villages along the north coast of West New Britain.’

The World Bank estimates that only between 10% and 12.4% of PNG households have access to electricity.

Of the 264,000 residents of WNB, just 26,000 live in Kimbe.

‘This highlights the strong need to extend the grid and give a larger percentage of the population the opportunity of having an efficient and cost effective power supply at their door step,’ says Brock.

‘This would be a real game changer for communities in West New Britain.’

Palm kernel

Palm kernel expeller, another byproduct of palm oil processing, also has potential as a biofuel. Credit: NBPOL

Palm kernel expeller, another byproduct of palm oil processing, also has potential as a biofuel. Credit: NBPOL

The company is looking at using another of its by-products, palm kernel expeller, as a power source for the province.

‘Currently we use this by-product as an animal feed for our own cattle operation and we export the product to Australia and New Zealand for their cattle operations.

‘We produce approximately 30,000 tons of palm kernel expeller a year.’

Brock says NBPOL is planning to build a power station to use all of this expeller to power steam turbines, giving another potential six megawatts of power.

‘This increases the power output to 16 MW, which is more than enough to supply both NBPOL with its power needs, and also cover the current Kimbe requirement.

A larger power plant

‘There is also a further opportunity for New Britain Palm Oil to increase its down streaming capabilities, with a larger refinery that could supply a feedstock for a larger power station and also provide a feedstock for biofuel production.

‘By combining the NBPOL initiatives of using by-products for renewable power as well as the potential of large scale hydropower, West New Britain could easily move to being a green energy provider that would cater for all needs of the province.

Brock says the potential for renewable power in WNB could be more than 40 megawatts of power.

Further details of the project can be found at the 2014 Papua New Guinea Advantage Investment & Infrastructure Summit website.


  1. Potaisa H Hombunaka says

    This power generation project to power the province at last to me will be the biggest development project for the province. Intetested to know the project timeline.

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