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Financial Boost to Allow for More Integration of Renewable Energy in Pacific Region

Image: IRENA

by Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby

Last month, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved grants to support the Asian Development Bank’s proposed Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Programme, which intends to boost the use of renewable energy in the region.

The programme involves Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Samoa and Tonga.

GCF approved a total of US$17 million, with US$12 million for the Cook Islands to expand its renewable energy grid, while the rest is committed to developing energy plans, implementing reforms and encourage the investment and participation of the private sector in the industry, in the other named countries.

The Pacific islands are home to a variety of renewable energy sources, yet vast bulk of power generation capacity is based on internal combustion engines and generators using imported diesel, heavy fuel oil and light fuel oil, according to a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Cook Islands’ capital, Rarotonga has renewables generation of 15% but with funding provided it is expected to increase to 50%. By the year 2020 the island nation looks to hit a 100%.

Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Cook Islands Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, said they’ve had a positive uptake in renewable energy from the private sector and from homes.

“The GCF funding will allow Cook Islands to ramp up renewable energy integration onto the grid and lower the cost of power generation.”

She further says it will have major benefits to the nation’s economy and help achieve the government’s goals of a low carbon sustainable economy.

For Papua New Guinea’s electricity supplier, PNG Power Limited, 70% of total electricity generation comes from hydro. Fiji and Samoa’s main source of electricity generation too comes from hydropower.

Hydropower plant in Fiji. Image source: Siemens

But it is still absolutely essential to look more into other renewable sources of energy in order to cut costs on fossil fuel imports, protect the environment, and fully make use of available natural resources and sustainably use them.

The Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Programme intends to conduct feasibility studies for mini-grid projects, solar, wind, and hydropower and energy storage. It’s expected to cost around US$400 million.

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