An innovative clean and sustainable energy project has been in its feasibility planning stage over the last 5 years in the Markham Valley. Although a new project, it has been funded to the tune of K20 million by one of PNG’s largest resource companies Oil Search in partnership with Aligned Energy.
The joint venture energy project is called PNG Biomass and is over half way into its plans to grow 21 million wood chip trees on underutilised grassy land in the Markham Valley to fire its proposed steam engines to generate 30MW of electricity. The plan would be to provide clean energy to PNG Power which PNG Power can then on sell to its existing customers in the Ramu Grid. Productive discussions have been ongoing between PNG Biomass and PNG Power and it is hoped that a deal will be signed this year.
Oil Search sees this as an important project to pursue because it already exports PNG Gas and Oil to overseas countries and so it was only fair that it invested in local energy solutions as well. This is a timely project with the growth in PNG’s economy. Executive President of the Lae Chamber of Commerce, Alan McLay recently stated that Lae’s peak power requirements are already above 40MW, and that in 5 to 10 years it would surpass 50MW. He added that a recent study of backup power through generators in Lae showed that they had the capacity of up to 20MW or half of what electricity capacity PNG Power was currently providing. This clearly highlights how expensive sourcing electricity was becoming for Lae City. Alan McLay welcomed any new solutions like the PNG Biomass Project.
The PNG Biomass project has the added benefit of being able to currently pay its landowners for growing the trees. This has resulted in 500 direct jobs and 4,000 indirect jobs. While landowners are being paid to grow the trees they are also able to grow vegetables and/or look after cattle around the trees for their own personal benefit. The trees would be harvested and sold by the landowners to PNG Biomass every 5 years.