Twenty senior government officials gathered at the Heritage Park Hotel at Honiara last Friday 10 July and gave their support to a regional programme on electric mobility. 

Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers met at Samoa in September 2019 and in recognition of the heavy reliance of the region on fossil fuel for its transport sector, directed the SPC/PCREEE, UNIDO and SIDS DOCK to develop a regional e-mobility policy and programme with targets for 2030 and 2050 and to address existing barriers in the areas of (i) policy and regulation, (ii) knowledge management, (iii) qualification/certification, as well as (iv) the promotion of investment, entrepreneurship and innovation.

In opening the meeting, Mr. Daniel Rove, the Under-Secretary, Ministry of Mines, Energy & Rural Electrification noted that the transportation system in Solomon Islands, both land & sea transport depend entirely on fossil fuel. It is estimated that over 50% of Solomon Island’s fuel consumption is used in the transportation sector, and therefore this is one potential sector in our economy that can contribute towards our emission reduction commitment under the Paris Agreement.  “I acknowledge the effort to scale up the penetration of renewable energy in our electricity sector such as the Tina River Hydro project and the Solomon Power solar PV farms and hybrid plants. I also acknowledge the energy efficiency measures to regulate high energy consuming electrical appliances like air-conditioners, refrigerators and freezers. However, we need to expand further in our energy efficiency endeavours to encompass other key sectors like the transportation sector,” said the Under-Secretary.

Electric mobility is not new to the region. More than 40 electric vehicle owners on the streets of Rarotonga met April 2019 to discuss challenges and new prospects of owning an electric vehicle. Electric buses has been introduced in Fiji and electric tuk-tuks has been assembled in Tonga.  Electric vehicles promotes cleaner cities by reducing air pollution from vehicles. “Most of these early uptake are by “enthusiasts” and “early adopters” and hopefully this regional programme will better prepare countries to better understand the technology, build local capacity and expertise as well as promote national adoption and mainstreaming, should they choose to pursue the e-mobility avenue,” said Solomone Fifita, Manager of the Pacific Community’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

Electric vehicles are powered by batteries that are charged from an electricity source. Its promotion therefore goes hand-in-hand with a country’s power sector development.  Countries who are generating their electricity mostly from renewable energy sources will enjoy additional economic and environment benefits.

Participants at the meeting were from Ministry of Mines, Energy & Rural Electrification, SIEA, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology, Inland Revenue Department, Customs & Excise Department, Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration. Ministry of Infrastructure Development, including the Hon. Mayor of Honiara City, Wilson Mamae