The electricity consumption in Papua New Guinea is markedly lower than the global average. Total electricity consumption per person in the country is around 56 watts, a significant shortfall compared to the global average of 412 watts per person. A majority of this electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, contributing to about 41 watts per person. The remainder comes from low-carbon sources such as hydro, geothermal and biofuels, which together provide just over 14 watts per person. Therefore, the country's approach to energy production is heavily dependent on high-emission fossil fuels, contributing to climate change and air pollution, while the production of clean, low-carbon electricity remains extremely low. This is furthermore concerning in a context where Papua New Guinea does not import or export electricity from or to other countries, increasing their vulnerability to energy shortages and fossil fuel price fluctuations.
As Papua New Guinea looks to develop its electrical infrastructure, the utilization of cleaner energy sources should be considered. None of the top performers in low-carbon electricity generation use biofuels; instead, nuclear, wind, and solar energy predominate. Countries such as Sweden, France, and South Korea have been successful in implementing nuclear energy, each boasting per capita rates of well over 350 watts. However, as Papua New Guinea is largely an agrarian and geographically fragmented society, Denmark and Ireland's success with wind power, and Australia's with solar power could offer more relevant and practical models to follow.
Digging into the historical data reveals that Papua New Guinea's journey towards low-carbon electricity has been slow and incremental. The mid-1990s saw an uptick in hydroelectricity generation. However, the contribution of hydroelectricity dipped slightly towards the end of the decade, only to recover in the early 2000s. The turn of the millennium also saw the introduction of biofuels in the country's energy mix, with minor but consistent input since then. Investment in geothermal energy began in 2003 and has seen a steady increase in the years following, showcasing the potential for further development of this green energy source. However, despite these strides, progress has been slow and inconsistent. The last decade has seen negligible expansion in hydroelectricity and biofuels, and a slight but notable dip in hydroelectricity generation in 2017, underlining the need for a more aggressive approach to developing clean, sustainable energy infrastructure.