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Submitted by Hamish on
Sandra, the lack of cheap, reliable power in Honiara and wider Solomon Islands has led to blackouts in hospitals, schools and businesses, and a number of problems for thousands of households. This needs to be addressed as people paying for electricity deserve efficient, reliable, and affordable services. There are potential problems with any project of this nature and that is why careful and thorough feasibility studies are necessary. The hydropower potential of the Solomon Islands is large, but as you point out, past attempts to tap this renewable energy resource have not succeeded. As a result, the country continues to rely almost 100% on imported fossil fuels for power generation and remains exposed to oil price shocks, like that which occurred in 2008. The development of hydropower on the Tina River would contribute to a reduction in this oil vulnerability, and make use of an abundant natural and renewable resource. This is not the third feasibility study to be funded by the World Bank. While the World Bank has provided inputs in the design of the feasibility study (and will continue to do so throughout the implementation phase) the actual funding is being provided by the European Investment Bank. Furthermore, the previous studies you refer to were funded by AIDAB (Lungga) and the Asian Development Bank (Komarindi) Additionally, the current feasibility study is built upon valuable information acquired through the previous studies which highlighted the unsuitability of the Lungga and Komarindi sites. The Lungga and Komarindi schemes failed to proceed for a variety of reasons, including inappropriate scale (both schemes) and poor site selection for the dam wall (Lungga). These shortcomings were revealed as result of thorough feasibility, financial, and technical studies. The lessons learnt from the previous studies show how important it is to carry out thorough technical, economic, financial, environmental, and social safeguards studies before committing to a hydropower project such as Tina River. SIEA faces a number of challenges that could have been better dealt with over the years. However, the Solomon Islands Sustainable Energy Project is making clear advances in improving the energy agency and ensuring, in the long-term, that it is able to provide reliable and affordable electricity to its customers. The project is designed to ensure that SIEA will be a stable customer for any potential independent power producers at Tina River. The project has experienced challenges, but these have been dealt with constructively.