The National Government through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) has delivered a micro hydro project to Beulah Provincial Secondary School in Western Province on Friday 3 November regardless of the hardships created by covid-19 and the recent political unrest in Honiara.
The 30kW Beulah Micro Hydropower is a project fully funded project by the National Government under the National Energy Development Project through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification at a cost of approximately SB$2.5 million.
This is one of the hydropower projects successfully implemented by the Ministry in promoting renewable energy usage and electricity access to rural areas and schools.
The Use and Promotion of renewable energy sources in the country is one of the Ministry’s key policy programmes to promote generating electricity using renewable energy sources.
Built approximately 200 meters inland along the Gori Gori river system, the Beulah micro hydro project supplies electricity to the school and surrounding committees for the next 20 plus years.
The project was initiated by the Member of Parliament for South New Georgia, Rendova and Tepepare constituency, Hon. Danny Philip who spearheaded negotiations with landowners of Saikile Chieftaincy for the water source and the MMERE for funding.
Hon. Philip responded to the need of the school by funding a feasibility study in partnership with technical officials of the MMERE to determine the viability of the project.
School Principal, Frank Naqu expressed his sincere appreciation to the Ministry and all stakeholders that participated in the construction of the project highlighting that the project is a game changer towards improving the students’ academic learning.
“This project is very important to us, especially students and staff members. We are looking forward to our light to assist us in our studies,” Mr Naqu said.
Chairman of the Hydro Committee, Lewan Wong urged the school management and students to take care of the project to ensure it continues to benefit the school in the future.
“The project when switched-on will be your asset for the next 20 or more years so I urge you all to look after the project when it is up and running,” Mr Wong said.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary Dr. Chris Vehe has highlighted that energy is the main catalyst that drives development and without it there will be no development.
He said the National Government policy on renewable energy usage is one of the main policy agendas implemented by the MMERE with the aim for reducing the use of diesel fuel to provide power supply in the future.
“Without power supply to schools in rural areas there won’t be lighting to aid night learning, security and photocopying and printing of learning materials and exams,” Dr. Vehe said.
The Permanent Secretary further emphasized that the National Government through the MMERE is working on a National Energy Strategy that will map out where to place renewable energy sources within the country’s available energy resources.
On this note, Dr Vehe said these plans need to embrace partnership models that engage all relevant stakeholders including the National and Provincial Governments, Communities, resources owners and direct beneficiaries such as schools and other institutions.
Beulah School previously sourced its electricity supply from the nearby Bulelavata micro-hydro system but decided to have their own due to unreliable electricity supply experienced by the school in past years.
In 2016, the school management sent the Feasibility Study report to MMERE in 2016 seeking funding assistance. MMERE responded the same year by allocating AUD331, 698.21 to Pelena Energy Pty Ltd (Australian company) to supply equipment for the 30kW hydro system.
The materials were shipped to Noro in 2019 from Australia. MMERE met freight costs of transporting the equipment to Beula from Noro.
The MMERE procured the required aggregate and sand from Honiara this year and shipped to Beula which commenced recently and will soon be switched on.