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Ministers, landowners support PNG Biomass to deliver renewable and reliable power

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.

Given Papua New Guinea’s geographical terrain, the Marape-Basil Government recognizes the need to support the country’s energy mix, which includes the PNG Biomass Project, according to Deputy Prime Minister and National Planning Minister, the Hon. Sam Basil.

Speaking at a presentation in Port Moresby, Mr Basil said there is a new power generation paradigm for the country that ensures the future of energy in PNG is reliable, affordable and dispatchable.

Oil Search Country Manager, Leon Buskens, affirmed the Company’s commitment to complement Government aspirations to deliver national development priorities on electrification, diversifying the energy mix, driving inclusive economic growth, reforestation of the country, and developing renewable energy initiatives that drive climate action.

“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.

“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,” said Buskens.

Buskens thanked long-standing supporters and partners, and in particular the Government for its ongoing support towards progressing the PNG Biomass renewable energy project in the Markham Valley as part of the country’s energy mix.

The Deputy Prime Minister described the importance of PNG Biomass, saying: “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 develop 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 for more power.

Basil said he is supportive of PNG Biomass and that he is excited that this 30 megawatt plant will share its benefits directly with landowners. He emphasised the need for biomass as an important extra fuel source to add into the national energy mix given the demand for power.

Minister for Energy, the Hon. William Gogl Onglo, emphasised the importance of electrifying PNG by working with Independent Power Producers (IPP) in collaboration with the PNG Electrification Partnership (PEP) countries Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

“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,” said Onglo.

As part of this collaborative partnership three landowner leaders travelled from the Markham Valley to attend the presentation. They expressed their gratitude to Oil Search for driving this important power and development initiative and the Government for showing strong support towards the project.

A local landowner leader, Frank Godfrey said they have been working with PNG Biomass since 2011 and have high expectations of accomplishing this renewable energy project. Godfrey stated that: “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.”

Landowner Frank Godfrey with Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Sam Basil discussing the benefits of PNG Biomass

The presentation was attended by representatives from PNG Power, Bank of PNG, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission, Climate Change and Development Authority, PNG Forest Authority, the International Finance Corporation, the European Union and the Australian High Commission as well as landowners from the project area.

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