Improvement of the Sarakata River Hydroelectric Power Station
Small-scale agriculture is the main industry in Vanuatu and the few export products means a chronic deficit in the international trade balance. Up to around 1990, electricity was mainly generated by diesel engine generators using imported diesel oil, constituting a heavy burden on the national economy. Under these circumstances, the Government of Vanuatu adopted the breaking away from the dependence on oil as a priority target, formulated an energy programme primarily featuring a shift to hydroelectric power generation and made a request to the Government of Japan for the implementation of a project to build the Sarakata River Hydroelectric Power Station to supply electricity to Luganville.
In response to this request, the Government of Japan implemented the Project to Construct the Sarakata River Hydroelectric Power Station on Santo Island (hereinafter referred to as “the previous project”) in 1994 and 1995 as a grant aid project. Following the construction of this new power station with two 300 kW turbine generators (combined generating capacity of 600 kW), this power station supplied as much as 70% of the electricity supplied to Luganville in 1995, contributing to the breaking away from the dependence on oil for some time. However, the conspicuous growth of the power demand in the area in subsequent years made it impossible for the rated generating capacity of this hydroelectric power station to meet the peak power demand. This situation led to renewed dependence on diesel oil generation and the resulting increase of the diesel oil procurement cost began to oppress the economy of Vanuatu. To alleviate the situation, the Government of Vanuatu made a further request to the Government of Japan for the provision of grant aid for the installation of a new 600 kW hydraulic turbine generator at the Sarakata River Hydroelectric Power Station.