Solar Power for Village Homes
New Ireland-based gold miner, Lihir Gold Limited, has commissioned a trial project to bring solar-powered electricity to the homes of villagers on Mali Island, in the Lihir Group of Islands. The $164,000 project, which is part of Lihir Gold's community development program, will initially see six houses being installed with solar power systems.
Manufactured by Rainbow Power Company (Australia), the solar power systems are being installed by local contractors, Lihir Contracting Services and Lihir Electrical. Each kit consists of 8 solar panels, 12 batteries designed specifically for solar power usage, six fluorescent lights, a 240-volt inverter, and, as a special bonus, a 220-litre fridge.
Each of the six houses will have eight solar panels mounted on the roof, facing the sun. Using advanced technology, energy from the sun is converted directly into electricity. The solar systems will provide sufficient electricity to power household items such a fridge, television, stereo, fan and lighting, and can handle up to five days of overcast weather before battery power is reduced.
Lihir Gold Managing Director, Neil Swan, said that the company was excited to be bringing the benefits of modern technology to the Lihirian community.
"Lihir Gold is certainly leading the way when it comes to introducing clean, sustainable energy. Last year we commissioned Papua New Guinea's first geothermal power station and now we are bringing solar power to the island. Significantly, both are forms of energy that can be sustained for the benefit of future generations, " he said.
Through the implementation of innovative projects such as these, Lihir Gold continues to establish benchmarks for future energy initiatives, both within the region and nationally.
Solar power is one of the most environmentally-friendly ways to provide electricity to those who currently live without it. It is a natural form of energy that will be able to provide a renewable energy supply that has very little environmental impact
"By opting to trial solar power the company is fulfilling the community's desire for progress, while respecting the environment. It also has other benefits - it is safe, has a long lifespan and requires minimal maintenance."
During the initial trial period only, Lihir Contracting Services and Lihir Electrical will be carrying out monthly maintenance on the solar systems. Thereafter, the systems will require maintenance every three months. To help the Mali villagers become self-sufficient, the long-term plan is to provide them with training on how to properly care for their new assets.
The company will be monitoring the performance of the solar power systems over the next few months before making a decision on whether or not to extend this form of electrification to the rest of the village.