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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

In sunny places, renewable energy goals are on track

Cook Islands seeks to convert to 100 percent renewable energy two years from now — a target set in Cook Islands Renewable Energy Chart that was developed in 2011.

According to Asian Development Bank, progress toward the 2020 target is impressive with 4.2 MW of solar photovoltaic and new high-speed diesel engines designed for operation on biodiesel having been added to the previous 11.75 MW diesel system. Projects for additional solar photovoltaic arrays and battery storage systems are under implementation.

The state-owned utility, Te Aponga Uira, is responsible for power supply to the island of Rarotonga, representing 90 percent of total country demand.

Cofinanced by ADB, the European Union, and the Government of the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands Renewable Energy Sector Project will help lower the country’s reliance on fossil fuels by building solar-powered plants on five of its islands and help the government achieve its goal of supplying 100 percent of inhabited islands with renewable energy by 2020.

The potential for renewable energy in the region is not confined to Cook Islands. While experiencing a massive problem in importing fossil fuel for power generation, Pacific island nations enjoy abundant sunshine hence their large capabilities for solar, as well as wind, hydro and geothermal energy.

A total of 15 active projects worth $426 million represent a component of ADB’s commitment to pour over $1 billion in energy investments in the Pacific between 2018–2021, including 19 projects to help countries in the subregion have better access to quality, affordable, and sustainable energy sources, according to a new ADB report.

The Pacific Energy Update 2018, which provides a comprehensive overview of ADB’s energy-focused work in the Pacific, highlights the impacts of ADB-supported energy initiatives completed in 2017 and ongoing in 2018, while providing details of ADB’s future plans in the subregion’s energy sector.

“ADB is helping the Pacific region plan for a renewable energy future and improve regional energy systems by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy; maximizing access to energy for all; and supporting energy sector reform, capacity building, and effective governance,” said Olly Norojono, ADB’s Pacific division director for Transport, Energy, and Natural Resources Division.

ADB has approved the Pacific Renewable Energy Investment Facility in June 2017 to help fund a series of renewable energy projects and sector reforms in the smallest 11 Pacific island countries.

For instance, a project to help reduce the Marshall Islands’ consumption of fossil fuels and increase renewable energy generation — 20 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2020—received a $2 million grant from the facility in December 2017.

The active Majuro Power Network Strengthening technical assistance is identifying approaches to increase the absorption capacity for renewables and will deliver a road map for investments to increase the share of renewables in Majuro’s energy mix. Preliminary findings under the TA indicate that Majuro’s absorptive capacity for renewable energy generation has been reached, and that immediate investments should focus on its fuel storage facilities, generation plant, and portions of its distribution network. Feasibility studies under the TA suggest that the most technically and economically viable renewable energy generation sources for midterm investments include solar photovoltaic, waste to energy, and medium-scale wind.

The $2 million Strengthening Majuro Distribution Network Project will fund the installation of an advanced metering infrastructure to enable the Marshalls Energy Company to identify and reduce its network losses. The proposed $5 million Majuro Tank Farm Rehabilitation Project will rehabilitate the existing facility, and address safety and security of supply issues while medium-term renewable energy options are being developed.

The proposed $4 million waste-to-energy project is scheduled for 2019 approval. The proposed $18 million Majuro Power Network Strengthening, Phase 2 is scheduled for 2019 approval, and will include investments to further reduce MEC’s network losses, increase renewable energy penetration, and other measures to improve MEC’s operational and commercial performance.

In Palau, the state-owned Palau Public Utilities Corp. manages the electrical power and water and wastewater systems. Electrification rate is 100 percent. The Palau Public Utilities Corp. supplied its 2015 peak load of 12 MW using 34 MW of diesel power and 600 kW of solar power. The government has set a 45 percent renewable energy target to be achieved by 2025.

Fiji has set the targets of 99 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and a 100 percent electrification rate by 2020 requiring investments of approximately $760 million over the coming decade.

The Yap Renewable Energy Development Project in the Federated States of Micronesia, funded by two ADB loans, supported the construction of a wind farm capable of withstanding typhoons. Grid-connected solar panels were also installed on about five government buildings across the island and new fuel-efficient diesel generators replaced aging ones.

Nauru has set a renewable energy target of 50 percent by 2020. Nauru’s power outlook improved dramatically when the government installed two new energy-efficient, diesel generators—completed under the Nauru Electricity Supply Security and Sustainability Project, with initial grant funding from ADB and the European Union, and later supported with additional funding from the governments of Australia and Nauru.

ADB is assisting Papua New Guinea achieve its national electrification objectives while promoting a shift to clean energy from power generated from fossil fuels. ADB’s energy assistance in the Solomon Islands include supporting the country’s drive to tap more of its energy from clean sources, including hydro and solar power.


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