Energy Globe award for Solomon Islands lighting project

27-04-2010, Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands

REEEP's very first project in the Southeast Asia Pacific Region has won the National Energy Globe Award for 2009 for the Solomon Islands. The “Pacific Micro Energy Services Company” initiative has brought solar-powered LED lanterns to remote rural households in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, replacing the default kerosene lighting, which is expensive and has harmful health effects.

This project has already attracted press attention for its innovative barter model, which lets farmers without access to the traditional banking system to trade cassava, dalo, bananas and other crops as instalment payments to pay off their micro loan for their solar home systems.  This also brings a real savings in fuel costs:  in the Solomon Islands, kerosene will cost a typical household the equivalent of about €0.63 per day, while the value of the crops traded for solar LED lighting amounts to less than half that, at €0.28 per day for the duration of the loan, typically 18-24 months.

This SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission) implemented initiative, funded by the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand, has achieved significant up-scaling since the REEEP component of the project closed in January 2009. A local solar entrepreneur in the Solomon Islands, Willies Electrical, was able to leverage further funding from the Solomon Islands’ government and the World Bank, and scaled up this kerosene replacement model to 600 more households, an 18-fold increase on the original project’s 35 households.  Beyond this, Willies has another 1410 households who are interested in the LED systems, pending further financing, and is currently in further negotiations with the World Bank.

“This is an exemplary instance of how small and targeted REEEP interventions pave the way for follow-up initiatives, resulting in large impacts. It is also a testament to REEEP’s robust structure and its presence in the region through a Regional Secretariat which gives opportunity to work with regional agencies and develop possibilities for scaling up. For our donors, this demonstrates that funding that is channelled through REEEP is money well invested,” said Marianne Osterkorn, the organisation’s Director General.

“I’ve been able to visit the communities in the Solomon Islands that have had their solar home systems installed. It is truly humbling to be accepted for a day into these communities and to see how much the lives of the people involved have been touched and transformed,” exudes Eva Oberender, head of the REEEP Regional Secretariat, “We commend David Iro (CEO, Willies Electrical) for his ability to inspire the people of the Solomon Islands to come on board with solar power, his tireless persistence and his new ideas, as well as the whole team at SOPAC for helping make it all happen.  The National Energy Globe for the Solomon Islands couldn’t have gone to a more worthy project.”

The Energy Globe is one of the most prestigious environmental awards. It is an annual competition with more than 100 nations participating in which outstanding sustainable projects are honoured. The Award is presented at the national and international levels, and concludes with an annual global televised gala.  This year, the awards gala will take place in Kigali, Rwanda on World Environment Day, 3rd June 2010.
 

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Eva Kelly Oberender

Consultant, PFAN Strategy