13 February 2012: The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) has announced that US$4 million from the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) has been approved to install home solar power generation systems in rural areas of the Solomon Islands.
According to PIFS, the project is anticipated to expand rural electrification to 2000 currently unelectrified households in 20 communities, benefitting an estimated 10,600 Solomon Islanders. PIFS says the solar units will be rented to households, and managed by the Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO), a private sector entity. As Solomon Islanders in rural areas are often cash poor, the project will also involve a Barter Trade System, allowing users to trade agricultural produce as a substitute for monthly fees.
The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan of ¥6.8 billion (approximately US$66 million) to support PIF Country projects focusing on the provision of solar power generation systems and sea water desalination plants. To date, Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru and the Solomon Islands have accessed the fund for renewable energy projects.