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CNMI targets 100% green energy by 2045 


Arnold Palacios

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


The Northern Marianas will set an ambitious goal to generate a 100 percent renewable capacity to power up the islands by 2045.


“It won’t be an easy transition, but it’s necessary and possible if we all work 

together and help each other. That’s the island way,” CNMI Gov. Arnold Palacios said Friday in his keynote address at the 15th Conference on Island Sustainability hosted by the University of Guam at the Hyatt Regency Guam.


Like most island communities in the region, the CNMI is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, leaving it vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations that directly impact the cost of electricity.

 

“We just completed our first greenhouse gas inventory with help from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Because we are still so dependent

on fossil fuels for everything we do today, our small islands produce more than 440,000 metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions,” Palacios said.


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The governor is set to sign next week a climate agreement with the Blue Planet Alliance, sealing the CNMI’s commitment to generate 100 percent renewable energy consistent with the organization’s zero-greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2045.

 

The Blue Planet Alliance,  a nonprofit organization established in 2020 by climate change solutions advocate Henk Rogers, hopes to drum up global support for its goal.

 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar energy is the primary renewable energy source for the CNMI, which is considered the sunniest area in Micronesia.

 

In 2022, the CNMI had about 5 megawatts of net-metered customer-sited solar-powered generation, which was about 11 percent of the islands' total electricity production.

 

According to the energy office, the CNMI’s 20-megawatt solar PV facility project on Saipan, is scheduled to come online in 2025. It will be the first utility-scale solar farm with a battery electric storage system.

 

While acknowledging the necessity of science and technology as well as the convenience they provide, Palacios said revisiting the islanders’ old sustainable practices is equally imperative.

 

“We realize now we need balance. We want and need technology and science to solve modern problems and improve our lives. But we still need the indigenous traditions and wisdom that have sustained us for generations,” he said.


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“In the Northern Marianas, we are experiencing a resurgence in our  understanding  that we are part of a unique island ecosystem. To survive and thrive, we have to live in harmony with our environment,” he added.


The governor recounted certain values the older generations adhered to.


“Taking only what we need when we fish or hunt. Planting our food at home. Sharing what we have with our families and communities,” he said.


“These things were fun when we were kids but eventually we realize we’re not just doing them for fun. The values and mindset underneath these lessons from our elders are essential to our survival. They always have been.”

In January, the CNMI launched the Green  Growth  Initiative, which seeks to motivate the people “to go back to our roots  and embrace once again the best

practices of our ancestors that were sustainable, green and regenerative.”




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