NIMBIN'S Rainbow Power Company has signed a deal to provide renewable electricity to more than 3500 homes in 49 villages in Papua New Guinea.
Only 20% of the country has access to electricity, but Rainbow Power director Paul O'Reilly said there was a huge opportunity for the company there as the country had a target of providing electricity to 80% of the population by 2020.
"The alternative technol
ogy skills we have been practising in this part of the world for 25 years are really coming to fruition and have a place in the broader world," he said.
"We're now exporting those skills."
Each of the 49 villages will be provided with a three-phase solar system with battery storage that will be distributed via a mini grid.
The 13.8kW system will
allow homes to run lighting, televisions, phone charging and a community cool room. Those too remote to connect to the mini grids will get a 90-watt stand-alone system.
At the moment most vill
ages use kerosene lamps for lighting which is responsible for health problems including respiratory infections, lung and throat cancers, eye infections and cataracts as well as low birth weights.
Mr O'Reilly said when faced with a choice between diesel generators and renewable technology, renewables were now much cheaper and more reliable.
"When you're looking at villages that are a five to six-hour boat trip upriver, trying to keep the diesel flow up is a challenge," he said.
"So the answer is to install a system where they get free energy from the sun."
He said Rainbow Power's tender included its highest quality equipment because reliability was an important issue.
He said the desire for
mobile phone technology and the need to recharge handsets was driving the push for electricity on PNG.
"When you looking at communicating with someone for a 30 cent phone call instead of a two-day walk, that's life changing."