Landowners, Ministers Approve PNG Biomass Project
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Planning Sam Basil and Energy Minister William Onglo, with representatives from government, landowners, and Oil Search after the briefing.
In light of the need for sustainable energy, the Marape-Basil government has supported the PNG Biomass Project.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister and National Planning Minister Hon. Sam Basil, “This Biomass project is very important, not only for the Markham Valley, Lae and the Ramu Grid. It is important because it is a great example of the new power generation paradigm. For our country, the pathway to developing a functioning power sector is not forged overnight. Since 2009, the Biomass project has been successful but is waiting for the Government and stakeholders to come together to make it happen.”
He added, “For our country, the pathway to developing a functioning power sector is not forged overnight. Since 2009, the Biomass project has been successful but is waiting for the Government and stakeholders to come together to make it happen. This plant will generate 30 megawatts and recently we had bi-lateral partners come forward and added an additional solar plant that will be assisting the [biomass] power plant to put more power into the grid. But I believe the challenge is still there, we still need to get it together to make sure that we make this [project] come true. PNG Power and many other stakeholders can make this happen. It is very important when you look at the upcoming project in Morobe Province, for example, the Wafi-Golpu project and the expansion of Lae city, the new airport being built in Lae, new fly-in fly-out – those developments will demand more power.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Energy Hon William Onglo highlighted the significance of electrifying PNG by working together with Independent Power Producers (IPP) and other countries.
“In PNG we need energy, energy is the catalyst for industrialisation. As a Government, we have a roadmap for the next 30 years. Right now, we have 15% of our people accessing electricity, we are looking at 2030 to have 70%. How can we do that? We need all the stakeholders. It is achievable working with IPP and PEP partners,” he said.
For his part, Oil Search Country Manager Leon Buskens affirmed the commitment of his company to bring national development priorities on electrification, driving inclusive economic growth, diversifying the energy mix, reforestation of the country, and developing renewable energy.
“We have prepared the foundation for a world-class integrated renewable energy project in the Markham Valley. We have taken the time, almost 10 years, to do this properly. To do right to the landowners from their lens, to align with our National priorities, to support international obligations, and to ensure that this is an energy and social development project,” he said. “It is through our tireless efforts in the Markham Valley that we are paving the way for a new power generation paradigm. A new paradigm that will contribute to the resolution of the black-outs, the brown-outs, the disruptions and power cuts we all deal with.”
Local landowner leader Frank Godfrey has all high hopes of working with PNG Biomass since they have been doing it since 2011. He said, “PNG Biomass is already benefiting us and contributing to the well-being of our communities. We are happy to receive benefits from land rentals, incentives through landowner companies, and growing our cash-crops on plantation land. But now to see the biomass power plant and the solar panels. This project is only real if we see the construction. We have waited and waited, but do you see a power plant? Today gives us hope, we see our Ministers here, they say this project will happen and is important to the country. Our people will keep growing the trees, our Government supports us, and we know Oil Search will deliver.”
Some of those who attended this gathering included Climate Change and Development Authority, PNG Power, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission, the Bank of PNG, PNG Forest Authority, the European Union, the International FinanceCorporation, and the Australian High Commission as well as landowners from the project area.