Maru: Sowom Hydro Project to be PNG Government's Priority

by PNG Business News - September 26, 2022

Photo credit: Papua New Guinea Today

According to Richard Maru, the Minister for Trade and Investment, high electricity costs are a significant barrier to trade and investment in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

With approximately 13% of the population having access to electricity, PNG is one of the least electrified nations in the world due to its inconsistent, costly, and limited supply of energy.

“We continue to rely on the expensive diesel generators when we have vast cheaper and cleaner energy options available- the rivers (for hydro projects) and the sun (for solar farms),” said Minister Maru.

After speaking with a team from the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) regarding a feasibility study into the Sowom Hydro Project in East Sepik Province, Minister Maru brought up this issue. The possibility of the hydro project along the Sowom River was investigated by SMEC in a preliminary high-level feasibility assessment in 2014.

“The Marape-Rosso Government is keen to have a full feasibility study done on the viability of one or two hydro projects along the Sowom River,” said Minister Maru.

Currently, diesel generators at Wewak and Maprik supply the approximately 10 megawatts of energy needed in the East Sepik Province.

“It is difficult to attract major investment projects in East Sepik Province without reliable and cheaper power. The Greater Sepik Region cannot continue to depend on expensive diesel generators for electricity,” said Minister Maru.

In order to conduct a thorough feasibility assessment on the Sowom Hydro Project, Minister Maru asked SMEC to put up a proposal and a costing. Before the year is up, he wants the Feasibility Study to be finished.

“I have briefed the Governor of East Sepik Province on this study, and he is very supportive. The availability of cheap and reliable electricity is one of the highest challenges for the entire Greater Sepik Region which must be solved before the region can market itself as a serious investment destination, along with other provinces like Manus, Gulf, West Sepik, and New Ireland who continue to depend on very expensive diesel-fired generators. A combination of hydro, solar energy, and gas-fired electricity supply is the way to go for these provinces,” said Minister Maru.

In order to develop a more affordable and dependable electricity supply to support economic growth and provide cheaper and more accessible electricity to the majority of the population in the country, Minister Maru stated that he will be working closely with the leaders from other provinces and districts across the nation.

“This will also be a major business opportunity to the landowners of the lands where such projects will be located in,” he said.

 

Reference: Papua New Guinea Today (20 September 2022). “Sowom Hydro Project to be PNG Government's Priority : Maru”.



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