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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star July 5) - The Central Bank of Solomon Islands and the World Bank today signed the Grant Agreement to support the financing of renewable energy electricity supplies for rural communities.

Central Bank of Solomon Islands Governor Rick Hou said in rural areas of the Solomon Islands, access to electricity is low.

He said power generation is heavily dependent on diesel and most lighting is provided by kerosene lamps.

He said with the cost of diesel and kerosene soaring in the past two years many rural households are spending 25 percent or more of their income on fuel.

Drawing on the good renewable energy endowments found in the Solomon Islands, such as Solar PV (Solar Photo Voltaic), Hydro and Biofuels, (coconut oil), the Grant Agreement will provide support to individual households and small enterprises to buy, install and maintain these renewable energy products.

Mr Hou said the grant will among others support the development of an approved product catalogue.

"This will ensure that quality solar PV kits, pico-hydro pumps and coconut oil tanks can be provided reliably," he said.

He said individuals or businesses which purchase products offered in the catalogue will be eligible for low cost, long term finance, which makes it possible to buy SolarPV equipment for the cost families now spend on kerosene for lighting.

The Grant Agreement will also support training for the installation of SolarPV and Pico hydro equipment, as well as for switching diesel generators for use of coconut oil.

"The signing of this Grant Agreement is an important step towards rural Solomon Islanders gaining access to reliable and environmentally sound power supplies" Mr Hou said. "With the support of the World Bank Group, it is encouraging sustainable development through the private sector and is helping to break down some of the common barriers to obtaining finance in small and remote communities."

The Grant Agreement is part of the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy Financing project, a US$9.5 million project funded by the Global Environment Facility and approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors last month.

The project will fund renewable energy supplies for rural communities in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Republic of the Marshall Islands and will run over 10 years.

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