PNG Power Limited and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, are working together to identify ways to stimulate private investment and expertise to boost power generation in Papua New Guinea, including through greater use of renewable energy sources.

The move follows the signing of an agreement in Port Moresby between IFC’s Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Nena Stoiljkovic and PNG Power’s Bruce Corbet, Director, Strategic Planning and Business Development.  The deal is expected to help deliver lower cost and more reliable power to remote and outer island centres, not connected to the country’s two main electricity grids.

“By having solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy, we will avoid the vulnerability, expense and environmental cost that comes with diesel shipments and storage,” said PNG Power’s Acting Managing Director, Carolyn Blacklock.  “PNG Power wants to leverage the global expertise of IFC.  We know that other countries have had great success in utilising the private sector to increase the reliability of power generation and we want to tap into that global expertise.”  

“Papua New Guinea has one of the most acute energy access challenges in the world with about seven million people lacking access to the country’s electric power grid,” said Nena Stoiljkovic, the Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific, making her first visit to the country. “IFC wants to work with PNG Power to improve services to the people of Papua New Guinea and support the government’s agenda to be 100 percent renewable by 2050.”

IFC and PNG Power are also working on a pilot rooftop solar PV program for business in the capital Port Moresby, which should begin by the end of December. The move follows consultations with business, with the aim to initially allow about two percent of peak demand for electricity in the capital to be generated by rooftop solar.

PNG Power had requested IFC’s support in the wake of its successful Lighting PNG program, launched in 2013, which has already helped 1.6 million people – or 20 percent of the population – gain access to phone charging and solar lighting for the first time.

Meanwhile an interim IFC study of Papua New Guinea’s renewable energy shows there is considerable potential for greater investment in renewable energy but it has not yet been developed.

With 300 days of sunshine in many parts of the country, the research points to the potential to harness the sunshine to deliver power to people and businesses through solar. As well as solar, one of the largest potential resources for PNG is hydro yet only a little over 1% of hydro potential is being utilised.

IFC’s work in Papua New Guinea is supported by the Australian and New Zealand Governments under the Papua New Guinea Partnership.