PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 6) – With fossil fuel prices rising to peak levels and not likely to be subsidised soon, the world is looking for cheaper ways to fire up energy sources.

Countries in the Western world can afford to let individuals buy household solar panel kits. They offer tax incentives for people to buy and erect their own energy sources because it saves the state the stress and cost of building larger power plants fuelled by diesel, gas and coal sources.

Now a far-sighted Papua New Guinea politician is leading the way in introducing an alternative source of energy. It’s former prime minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu. He is spearheading a study for the proposed setting up of a wind power plant in the Duke of York Islands.

The Chinese Government has already agreed to finance it with PGK760,000 [US$260,370].

If it comes into being, it will be a trailblazer for many other island and mountain communities which would not, otherwise, be on the list for rural power.

Not every locality is ideal for wind power. But those which are found to be suited should be funded.

Wind power turbines, once built, can last for many years with relatively minor maintenance. Importantly, they do not devour drum after drum of diesel fuel. In some developed countries, wind power is becoming a part of big business.

Australia is leaping into the industry in a big way, with whole stretches of windy coastline being harnessed for acres of tall wind generators. Companies are listed on stock exchanges.

Wind power is not a trendy, impractical idea. Sadly, energy is just a division within the Department of Petroleum. Financing of its work has been small-scale. We recall the proposal by a Chinese consultant to the Energy division for a tidal power base to be set up in the vigorous Buka Passage.

Why is there not a spirited discussion going on to test its feasibility and to tap into the overseas financing institutions which would be delighted to do something concrete, positive and lasting for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville? Whole cities are linked with gas for domestic cooking and industrial uses overseas. What is Waigani thinking on making use of our abundant gas for home use, at Tari, Mount Hagen and in other parts of Papua New Guinea if the infrastructure costs are manageable. It would be good to think that Sir Rabbie is not alone in the corridors of power when thinking about long-term solutions to our energy problems. Let us hear from the others, if there are others.

January 9, 2006

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