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Solomon Islands

Massive Solomon Islands hydro project powers on

One of the largest scale renewable energy projects in the Pacific, Tina Hydro project is progressing in Solomon Islands despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and protests from landowners.

Located in Central Guadalcanal, on the outskirts of capital Honiara, the 15MW dam at the cost of US$240.8 million is now moving into component three to establish a transmission line. Component one is the establishment of the Hydro Power Facility and component two is the access road.

About 70 percent of the population living in the city are tipped to access cheaper electricity when the project is completed in 2025. At the moment these same people are struggling with the higher cost of electricity provided by Solomon Power to their households.

According to Solomon Power there is still no confirmed date for work on the transmission line to commence, but the construction on the transmission line is due to be completed by December 2023 and the system should be working by 2024.

According to Tina Hydro Project Office, Solomon Power is now working through the design of the transmission line, and work on the installation of the water supply is expected to start in this quarter.

Tina Hydro initial stages of drilling. Photo: Tina River Hydro Project

Greenhouse Gas Emission

The Tina Hydro Project is one of the flagship policies of the Government to reduce the cost of electricity to residents in Honiara and contribute to the reduction target of the Greenhouse gas emission by 2025.

Bennie Smith, General Manager Special Projects of Solomon Power said the main objective of the Tina Project is to reduce the cost of generating electricity in the Solomon Islands.

“With a tariff agreed in the Power Purchase Agreement with the Project Company, Tina Hydro Power Limited, this avoids fluctuations of international fuel prices and will enable Solomon Power to have a better control on its cost of operation,” he said.

Furthermore, Mr Smith said the project will be the most significant hydro power project in the country, “utilising our very abundant water sources to generate energy for all of Honiara.”

“The company is moving towards renewables such as Solar Hybrid’s but this hydropower facility will be state of the art and latest power technology.”

Solomon Power Chief Executive Officer Donald Kiriau told media recently that they are also going out to the provinces over the next five years.

“In the provinces, we are building solar hybrid systems for more green energy.

“With covid-19, it is a challenge to bring in constructors, but we are working closely with the Government to bring in these important people to start construction,” he said.

Challenges

Land issues have always be a challenge and a complex issue in Solomon Islands when it comes to development because 80 per cent of the land is owned by tribes while only 20 percent is registered land.

Last month Charana tribe which owns the Tulahi land near the Tina Hydro Project site stopped Hyundai Engineering Company (HEC) from building the power station on their land.

The Solomon Star reported that a survey team who was sent to survey the land for the power house were told to stop working on their land.

The tribesmen and women showed their solidarity and staged a small protest in front the HEC officials and Guadalcanal Police at Managi village, Central Guadalcanal.

“Don’t enter our land, don’t enter our land, don’t enter in our land,” the Charana women and children chanted.

Island Sun understands the Tina Hydro Project Office has experienced challenges over the land in the last 13 years since the start of the project.

However, it managed to sort out the land acquisition process with the rightful landowners to allow the project to continue until today.

According to the project’s Communications Consultant Sarina Laurence, a unique land acquisition process was established to distribute compensation and royalties equally to all members of newly established tribal cooperatives, along with the establishment of a joint government-landowner land management company.

“It is also the first in the country to introduce unique landowner participation schemes that promotes sharing of project benefits, through royalty payments and land lease agreement, with tribes that have customary land ownership.

“All land selected for the project, including the dam site, reservoir, powerhouse, access roads, construction lay-down areas and quarries, is non-residential land, and no physical displacement of people will occur,” she said.

Ms Laurence said the introduction of the benefit-sharing mechanism to benefit the wider community was finalised in December 2019 and named the Community Benefit Sharing Programme.

“The programme will span the construction phase of the project and beyond, and provides layers of individual and community-based benefits from project funding and profits upon commissioning,” she said.

Partnership Agreement

The significant model about the Tina Hydro Project is a combination of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement involving the Solomon Islands Government and six financiers.

They are:

1. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD): $15m (approved January 2017);

2. World Bank: $34m (approved August 2017);

3. Government of Australia: $13m (approved June 2017)

4. Green Climate Fund (GCF): $86m (approved April 2017);

5. Korea-EX-IM Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF): $32m (approved August 2017)

6. Asian Development Bank (ADB): $30m (approved 26 September 2019).

Ms Laurence said the Tina Hydro Limited (THL) was established to develop, finance, construct and operate the 15 MW hydropower plant.

Contracted to THL, Hyundai Engineering Co (HEC) is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group and one of the largest Engineering construction companies in Korea.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) which has a term of 30 years is the legal contract for the purchase of power from Tina Hydro Limited which will operate the Power Station for 30 years.

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