Tina Hydro gets the green light

In a historic moment for the Solomon Islands, the Tina River Hydropower Development Project has overcome its last major hurdle before construction can finally commence on the much-anticipated SBD1.5 billion renewable energy project.

It has been a long and challenging journey for the flagship project with the preparatory and planning phase spanning over a decade. After a year of drafting by the Project’s holding company Tina Hydro Ltd. (THL) and its construction partner Hyundai Engineering Company (HEC), Environmental and Social Safeguard Management Plans (ESMPs) were approved by financiers last week, overcoming the last major hurdle before work can finally commence. With a complex and unique funding model, the 15 Mega Watt Hydropower Project has now met all of the required safeguard policies to ensure long term success and durability of the development.

Tina River is Solomon Islands’ first large-scale infrastructure project to be developed under a public-private partnership. Six financing organisations have come together through a combination of loans and grants – Green Climate Fund, the World Bank, the Economic Development Cooperation fund of Korea-(managed by KEXIM) Asian Development Bank, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and the Government of Australia. While this is a flagship national project for the Solomon Island Government, the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, the led Ministry, has formed an independent local Project team who are assisted by international experts from various fields. In partnership with Tina Hydro Limited, the holding company who owns and operates the infrastructure, the Project team is tasked to oversee the running of the program of works. Tina Hydro Power Limited have engaged world leading engineering firm, Hyundai Engineering Company (HEC) from South Korea, as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contractor for implementing the Project.

HEC has now commenced construction on the Access Road, worth US $26 million following the final sign off of all 31 ESMP’s. These detailed documents are an integral part of the construction phase and ensures appropriate measures are in place to minimize and mitigate adverse impacts on people and the environment, including considerations that may impede the Project’s progress such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It gives me great joy to acknowledge the commencement of construction and I am proud of my Government for working closely with the communities of Bahomea and Malango in Central Guadalcanal to see this historic day arrive,” said Prime Minister, the Hon Manasseh Sogavare. “It has been difficult decade for Tina; but we have never given up. We have, with the guidance of our experienced Lenders and Partners, taken no shortcuts or left anything to chance. Each part of this Project has been well planned to ensure the future prosperity of our nation.”

The first stage of Project’s implementation is the construction of the access road to accommodate the hydropower facility’s construction. This component, co-funded by the Australian Government and Green Climate Fund, will include two lots - Lot 1 involving the upgrade of the existing 13.2 km road from Black Post Junction to Managikiki Village; and Lot 2 involving a 5.5 km “greenfield” road through steep heavily forested terrain from Managikiki Village to the dam and power station.

Benefits for the Project are many and include alleviating pressure on household incomes and providing opportunities for improved government services, private sector development and entrepreneurship. It will also promote both economic and social benefits for Solomon Islands, and provide stimulus through new construction activity, which will rely on local firm inputs and local labour, therefore contributing to the post COVID-19 recovery phase in Solomon Islands.

Importantly, the Project will help Solomon Islands to transition away from diesel-powered energy, strengthen energy security and support Solomon Islands to reach its greenhouse gas emissions target under the Paris Agreement.

The Access Road component of the Project is expected to be completed in June 2022.