The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a finance package totalling $12 million to help develop hydropower potential in the Solomon Islands.

The package – which includes a $6 million loan and $6 million grant – will be used to build the Fiu River hydropower plant near Auki, Malaita, and extend the existing power grid to new households. Solomon Islands Electricity Authority staff will also be trained in the operation of hydropower plants.

“The Fiu River Hydropower Plant will almost completely displace diesel generation in Auki," said ADB Vice-President Lakshmi Venkatachalam. "In achieving this, the project will deliver more reliable and cleaner power to Auki and at the same time boost the local economy."

One innovative aspect is that the project will train newly connected households on options for electricity based income generation, electricity safety, and household budget management.

The Solomon Islands Government through Solomon Islands Electricity Authority is contributing $3 million equivalent.