TechInPacific – Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country in the South Pacific region that has emerged as the leading country in the region for off-grid solar installations. The country utilizes small-scale solar installation to distribute electricity for its citizens. According to the latest report from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the off-grid solar installations in PNG increased by 68% per annum since 2012.
The wide use of the off-grid solar installations in PNG has led to an unexpected driver – mobile phones. Due to a high number of mobile penetration in the country but with a low rate of electrification, many companies are promoting personal-scale installation called pico-solar to charge phones and other smaller appliances.
“In a number of countries with high mobile penetration and low energy access, solar solutions with mobile charging sees a major uptake. This is because people need the energy to charge their mobiles, and there is also an attempt by mobile companies to launch initiatives for mobile charging. It is important to remember that the revenues of mobile companies are directly related to handsets being charged,” said Subrata Barman, the IFC’s Energy Advisory Program in the Pacific as cited from Forbes.com.
The pico-solar can be used to provide electricity to smaller household appliances, including lamps, fans, and mobile phones. Speaking of mobile phones, the high rate of mobile penetration in the country has led to a rise in sales of pico-solar installations. The IFC report showed 83% of pico-solar products were phone chargers which then also led to the demand for other products for larger electric appliances.
There is a growing consumers’ interest in purchasing electric appliances in PNG. The government has noticed this trend and made a promise to improve electrification across the nation.
“The government of PNG has set a target of 70% electrification by 2030, and there is a general acceptance that part of this electrification would be met by off-grid solutions that would comprise a mix of mini-grids and solar home systems,” Barman added.
Furthermore, high penetration of mobile phones in the country brings another positive impact – bridging the gap for millions of Papua New Guineans seeking to experience the benefits of electrification with the growth of off-grid energy systems.