Plummeting prices of solar will ‘change the game’ in Papua New Guinea: President


Christian Lohberger, President of the Solar Association of PNG, updates Business Advantage PNG on all matters solar and why the future of Papua New Guinea’s renewables sector looks bright.

With a target of reaching 70 per cent of the population with electricity by 2030, Papua New Guinea has to grow its ‘electricity access every year by 40 per cent until 2030,’ explains Christian Lohberger, who is president of the peak body for the solar energy industry in PNG.

The Solar Energy Association’s Christian Lohberger

To make a comparison: if PNG’s GDP growth was set at 3.5 per cent, then electricity access in the country would need to grow ten times more than the GDP to bring electricity to about 5.9 million people, he explains.

With PNG having one of the highest electricity tariffs in the world (0.29 US cents per kilowatts hour), he believes PNG could rely more on solar energy because it comes as a lower cost.

‘PNG’s Climate Change and Development Authority is proposing over K105 million worth of proposed solar energy projects in PNG between now and 2026′

Sunshine is a world class resource in PNG, he says, and the potential market is extensive: for rural developments, the commercial sector, urban residential spaces, the resources sector, transportation and provincial governments.

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The solar revolution

solar power

Solar panel instalation at Mougulu’s ECPNG Hospital. Credit: MAF Technologies PNG

A global target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 was espoused at the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

‘2050 to me is irrelevant,’ says Lohberger. ‘We need to have a plan to decarbonise by 2025 and really be finalised by 2030. So 2050 is a good buzzword but, for people making decisions, 2025 is more important.’

With many countries introducing taxes to encourage reduced carbon emissions, he believes, there is a clear need for investors to look into solar, especially for off-grid power.

‘The plummeting prices of solar will change the game. It’s like mobile phones 10 or 20 years ago. They were a luxury item by early adoptees but now you have these hand-held devices that everyone can access.’

Current projects

PNG’s Climate Change and Development Authority is proposing over K105 million worth of solar energy projects in PNG between now and 2026, including the 10MW Saussia Solar Project in East Sepik Province and the 1.5MW Alotau Solar Project.

One project that’s already under way is the PNG Power Solar Rooftop Pilot project being run  by PNG Power in partnership with the International Finance Corporation. This has been developed to encourage businesses in Port Moresby to test rooftop solar. Companies such as TotalEnergie and SP Brewery have so far participated, says Lohberger.

Funding sources such as the USAID-Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership‘s planned US$3.2 million (K11.22 million) Catalytic Energy Fund will also support the development of off-grid power projects in PNG.

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