AbstractsMedical & Health Science

Renewable energy & energy efficiency in Solomon Islands: A case study at a rural grid-connected hospital

by James Ward

Institution: Murdoch University
Year: 2014
Record ID: 1066364
Full text PDF: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/26787/


Solomon Islands, with a 2010 population of only 538,000 (TRADING ECONOMICS 2014b) among almost 1000 islands, is an island nation heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs. With a renewable energy share of less than 1% of its 2009 energy mix (IRENA 2012b), and likely little increase by the time this research was performed (2014), the country’s renewable energy target of 50% electricity generation capacity by 2015 (REN21 2013, 106) seems, at first, rather far-fetched. Plans for new large-scale hydro and geothermal power projects, however, may soon change the nation’s electricity supply mix considerably, albeit a little later than the target date. Focus on delivering “green” energy to Honiara, the nation’s capital, whilst attractive from a statistical point of view – as this is where about 90% of the nation’s generating capacity exists (SIEA 2014c, 14) – may be detracting interest from the development of sustainable energy opportunities in rural areas, where about 90% of the population live (Ellis 2014, sec.1, par. 7). Helena Goldie Hospital, a grid-connected 70-bed hospital operating among the proportionally expansive rural population, has endured significant financial hardship attempting to maintain service delivery quality whilst accruing a growing debt to the nation’s electricity utility, Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA). Solomon Islands’ electricity prices, the highest among Pacific island developing nations (SPC 2012a), are part of the issue, as well as limited knowledge of (and limited existence of) energy efficiency and alternative energy supply policies and possibilities. This project delves into the current state of Solomon Islands’ energy sector, and attempts to find reason behind the lack of government policy or programs targeted at encouraging private renewable energy generation, particularly in rural grid-connected areas. The hospital case study is used as a practical mechanism to both draw out the enabling factors and barriers to private renewable energy generation in Solomon Islands, and to relieve the hospital of its electricity consumption financial burden.