BY GEORGINA KEKEA
COME June 2019, Selwyn College will be using electricity generated from solar powered grid.
Revealing this last week before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Meteorology, Dr Melchior Mataki says this project has been long in coming because it is a pilot project and they want to make sure everything is thorough before this project is put out for tender, sometimes in October.
Selwyn College as all boarding schools in the country, do not have access to the national electricity utility grid.
Thus this project is seen as very crucial for them.
Being one of the biggest boarding schools in rural Solomon Islands, Selwyn College have been selected to be a part of this pilot project titled ‘De-placement of diesel powered generation with low voltage solar grid smart system in large boarding schools in Solomon Islands’.
Currently Selwyn College uses 38,400 litres of diesel each year.
The cost of fuel alone takes up 20 percent of the school’s annual budget.
“Just to run a generator from 5.30 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night, annually it costs us $400,000 to just run diesel fuel generator,” Project Manager, Fox Qwaina said.
With 70 houses, on campus, this project will assist Selwyn College in its electricity needs.
The objectives of this project are to reduce the amount of diesel fuel usage and reduce costs on fuel while at the same time increase the availability of electricity and fresh water to staff and students of Selwyn College.
Another objective is to promote clean and environmentally friendly energy technology. This in return will also minimize the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere.
Since the school rely on water pumps to generate water for their needs, going into renewable energy is said to be environmentally friendly and cost effective for the school.
Not only will the school benefit from such an incentive but also neighboring communities and the country as a whole.
Student’s academic performance and health shall be improved with sick persons from nearby communities can also have access to safely stored vaccines from the school’s clinic but to name a few.
At the same time, PS Environment Mataki says one of the ground work which they did was to work closely with the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM).
This is to make them aware of their obligations and what they will expect once the school goes into solar energy.
Mataki says maintenance and safe keeping of the equipment are areas to consider and areas which the church need to understand first before going into this project.
Already this project has impressed the beneficiaries including Committee members of PAC.
This project was brought before PAC because government is the implementing agency through the partnership arrangement between the Ministry of Environment (MECDM) and the Ministry of Mines (MMERE).
The PS of MECDM is the national focal point of this project.
This pilot project is funded by the German Government through their international enterprise GIZ and the European Union.
At the national level, the project is in alignment with objectives four and seven of the National Development Strategy 2011 – 2020.
The project also relates to the objective of the National Climate Change Policy 2012 – 2017 which is to guide and ensure the country benefits from clean and renewable energy.
Also, this project addresses the National Energy policy 2014 which aims to increase electricity in rural households to 35 percent by 2020 and to increase the use of renewable energy sources for power generation in urban and rural areas to 50 percent by 2020.
On the global level, it is also addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG 7 aims to address clean and affordable energy by 2030.