Astra Solar is a brand new energy consulting firm formed in Port Moresby in 2014. It was formed by Christian Lohberger and Mark Seddon who between them have almost half a century of working in the often challenging PNG environment. Christian is an experienced engineer who has specialised in designing and implementing energy systems in his role as general manager for PNGs leading generator supplier Lohberger Engineering. Mark has his own office services business and is also a leading figure in the NGO scene from his role as COO for the Rotary Against Malaria project. They both have extensive experience in delivering complex projects to remote and difficult locations and many years of working with NGOs, government departments and commercial businesses.
The focus of Astra Solar is on solar power as we believe this has the most potential to help all levels of the community and with a steadily dropping price over the last five years solar power is now more affordable than ever. However Astra Solar also intends to provide industry leading consulting and implementation services for energy efficiency and other alternative energy sources such as wind, hydro, bio-gasification, fuel cell and load shifting. Our initial aim is to deliver solar lanterns to remote and disadvantaged communities, develop micro-grid and solar-hybrid systems for rural commercial centers and provide energy consulting and efficiency measures in regional towns and cities.
Astra Solar was created in response to the energy poverty that pervades many aspects of PNG society. We have the aim of providing clean, affordable, accessible energy for everyone, everywhere in PNG whether it be commercial entities in the main cities or rural subsistence farmers who have never had access to electrification before. Many international studies show that improved access to energy raises standards of living. Astra Solar aims to not just be an energy company but a force for change in PNG that makes a real difference to society. Rural communities and isolated hamlets can benefit by simply replacing kerosene lanterns with low priced solar lanterns that do not require regular cash purchase of kerosene, emit no toxic fumes and open up an entire new world of after dark activities such as school studies for children and commercial enterprise for adults. Businesses in many of PNGs provincial centers are also often at the mercy of unstable mains networks that are prone to blackouts that can leave them literally in the dark and power surges that can damage expensive and difficult to replace equipment. By applying energy efficiency measures and alternative power generation Astra Solar aims to help create a more durable and resilient grid as well as giving individual consumers more independence and self sufficiency in their power needs.
With the majority of Papua New Guineans unable to access reliable mains electricity power there is real potential to leapfrog the centralised generation technologies that were formed in the 19th century and adopt new forward looking models of distributed power that are more affordable, accessible and offer higher levels of redundancy. In the last ten years we have seen most Papua New Guineans go from having no access to telephones at all to leapfrogging landlines and going straight to 3G mobile telephones. There is real potential to employ a similar model for electrification and indeed for many parts of PNG it may be the only realistic solution. Astra Solar aims to make such plans happen by partnering with NGOs, business and all levels of government.