KENPAWA Energy Solutions was formed in February this year by Wilson Mondo, fresh from attaining a Master’s in Engineering degree at Massey University, New Zealand.
He is also an electrical engineer with a Bachelor in Engineering from the University of Technology, in Lae, and he did a five-year stint with a major contractor for Digicel.
The Digicel experience gave Mondo the chance to be involved in projects that ensured that more than 250 rural sites that were completely off the grid had a reliable power supply.
He said that was an eye-opener for it allowed him to see the potential of solar energy to reach more people than any other system.
During that period, Mondo specialised in the delivery of project management and engineering services from feasibility to delivery and operations and maintenance.
“The telecom sites are remotely located and off-grid, the viable power generation option to supply electricity to the towers is by other sources like solar and, generators as backup,” he said.
“The telecommunications equipment requires 24/7 operation, meaning that the power system must be reliable.
“Papua New Guinea has the potential for solar to be feasible to support energy services like lighting, cooking, heating and cooling, water pumping, refrigeration, transportation and communications in the rural areas.
“The average solar insolation is 4.5kWh/m2/day and on an average, there are 2489 hours of sunshine per year.
“This solar magnitude spreads throughout the country. If Digicel can utilise this resource to support communications, there is a large potential for development partners to work collectively with interested stakeholders to implement solar farm-solar home system for the rural population.
“And not only solar but we have wind, hydro, biomass and geothermal energy sources to be tapped into. These energy sources are clean and freely available in the rural areas.
“One of the key challenges is that the capital costs of renewables like solar are very high compared to conventional power systems like generators, but the operational costs of renewables is less than the conventional.
“Over a 20-year life cycle, the cost analysis can be done during the pre-feasibility analysis to see the financial viability of the project. The government needs to establish some kind of financial mechanisms and incentives (grants and rebates, low-interest loan programmes) to support the rural population so that electricity from renewable energy sources can be affordable.”
Mondo said Kenpawa Energy Solutions is based on the need to increase access to reliable, affordable and clean energy systems by taking action in a locally focused way.
It was timely and encouraging to see that the government was being clear on this role and Mondo said it was an opportune moment to play his part in this.
“I was inspired by the rapid growth in the past five years of what have collectively become known as the National Electrification Roll-out Plan (NEROP) in the country. NEROP details how the Government of Papua New Guinea will expand the grid to rural communities around PNG Power’s 34 provincial grids,” Mondo said
“Furthermore, the support for such energy initiatives with renewable energy systems as provided by the then Department of Petroleum and Energy expressed in the Medium-Term Development Strategies and Vision 2050 provided an additional impetus for Kenpawa formation as a company.”
Mondo explained that the company was not like existing retailers of solar products but was focused on a more consultative work with communities.
This was to be done in partnership with donor stakeholders and communities with Kenpawa providing the feasibility data to guide development projects in this area.
“The rural areas are so remote that power lines may never be extended there, and only 13 per cent of the country’s population has electricity.
“Currently, PNG rural families use crude and dangerous kerosene lamps to light their homes, and expensive dry-cell batteries to power their radios. A solar electric system is safer, more reliable, provides better lighting, and promises better value than the alternatives mentioned above.”