Micro-finance for Solar Lighting Systems - 3 Nov, 2010
The Pacific Micro Energy Service Companies (PMESCOs) project will establish a micro-credit facility including training to entrepreneurs to enhance the dissemination of solar energy systems. It is designed to spread access to solar photovoltaic technology by supporting local entrepreneurs to purchase, deliver, assemble, sell and install solar lighting systems, providing the initial credit needed to get projects off the ground.
This project is jointly funded by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) South East Asia and the Pacific Secretariat.
Implementation will be carried out in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands with the following primary activities: Create an enabling environment by identification of and engagement with local entrepreneurs to establish and operate a micro energy service company; Purchase, deliver, assemble, sell and install Light Up The World (LUTW) solar systems for lighting in rural/outer islands of the Solomon Islands (3 villages) and Kiribati (3 villages), including technical training for entrepreneurs; Establish a micro-credit facility including training to entrepreneurs to enhance the dissemination of solar energy systems; Report, monitor and evaluate the project implementation including kerosene use as an indicator for GHG emissions reduction before and after the project; and Identify ways for estimated measured emissions reduction to support the activities through marketing on (voluntary) carbon markets. Access to reliable and clean energy is a pre-requisite for improving health, education, reducing poverty and sustainable development. More than half of the rural communities in the Pacific Islands depend on kerosene for lighting. In one of the selected villages in the Solomon Islands, people walk for hours through bush-tracks and rough terrain to buy kerosene specifically for lighting purposes. The limited cash on hand also limits the amount they can buy which normally will last them for 2 days of lighting. Access to markets to sell their local produce is another barrier however this has been recently eased by a local entrepreneur, Willies Electrical and Solar Power, through the concept of “cash crops”. This entrepreneur has been considered as one of the key local counterparts for implementing the PMESCOs project in the Solomon Islands. Kiribati on the other hand has a different scenario where access to kerosene for lighting purposes is constrained by simply the limited purchasing power of the people due to the lack of access to markets for sale of their local produce.
As for basic lighting, the Kiribati Solar Energy Company (SEC) currently provides stand alone solar PV systems however these are unaffordable to some households in the community. The PMESCOs project is expected to demonstrate a mechanism to provide an affordable, clean, reliable and safe lighting to rural and remote communities in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.