The Solomon Islands government and the World Bank are hoping that by then, a hyrdo power project about 20 kilometres east of Honiara will be up and running.
The Tina River Hydropower project could generate enough energy to power 90 percent of the city's needs.
Project Manager, Mark France says a three-year study shows the hydro project is commercially viable and environmentally safe.
Sam Seke caught up with Mr France at the Australia Solomon Islands business forum in Brisbane where he was hoping to attract Australian business to invest in the $A100 million project.
Presenter: Sam Seke
Speaker: Mark France; Tina River Hydropower Project Manager
FRANCE: The project which is a national energy project of the Ministry of Mines and Energy in the Solomons, is looking at the potential of the Tina River, which is about 20 kilometres east of Honiara, the capital. We have spent three years investigating the various options for viable hydro generation on this stretch of the river. The current proposal which has proven viable and we're just finalising the details, involves a power station that would produce about 80 to 90 per cent of Honiara's annual demand, and looks like being very viable. We would expect to go out to tender for someone to build the power station in April of 2014, and expect that the reservoir could be filled and the power station operating by the end of 2016.
SEKE: Now you are in the project planning stage now. What kind of assistance are you getting in from who?
FRANCE: Obviously it's a government-sponsored project, so a lot of our day-to-day funding comes from the Solomon Islands Government - we get a budget each year from their development budget. But much of the early funding for the project came from the European Investment Bank, they funded the original feasibility studies, and also from Australian aid funding through the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Fund. PRIF has funded most of the recent funding into the project of more than $A3 million. So we've had a lot of help from a number of friends as well as the government.
SEKE: So on completion of the project will it be doing away with the high cost of power in Solomon Islands or in Honiara for matter, and the power cuts?
FRANCE: I think it'll go a long way towards doing that yes. It's not a silver bullet to solve all of the problems. It'll reduce the cost to the country of importing diesel by more than 80 per cent. Initially the capital cost of the hydro has to be paid back, but we expect that it will reduce significantly the cost of generation and therefore the price of generation, price of electricity for the average consumers in the Solomons, yes.
SEKE: And technically speaking is that environmentally safe for people living downstream or something?
FRANCE: That's a large reason why we've taken more than three years to design this thing, and it's had close examination from an international dam safety panel. Yes it's quite a low impact scheme, it's got a modest concrete dam about 45 metres high, it's upstream of any settlements or developments in the catchment, and should mean very little difference to the way the river operates. So yeah it's low impact and definitely safe.
SEKE: What are you promoting here, what do you expect from maybe Australia out of this Forum in trade export?
FRANCE: I guess we're looking for investors from Australia. It's part of the Solomon Islands Government and World Bank objectives to have private investment in the infrastructure in the Solomons. We think this is a wonderful opportunity for a long-term investment that will be a win-win situation both for Australia and for the Solomons. So we'd like to see experienced power generation and construction companies take an interest in the tender, put in their bids, and hopefully succeed. The design phase of the project has been done by Hydro Tasmania, so we've already got Australian interest in the project, and we're hoping to continue that.