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240 students, 18 teachers and the 3,600 people living in Teraina and Tabuaeran in Kiribati have access to 24-hour electricity for the first time as a result of recent solar energy installations.
Three systems were installed at the two local schools benefiting 110 students in Teraina and 133 in the neighbouring Tabuaeran Island. A small system was also installed at the Teraina Island Council which provides lighting, charging ports and internet services to the local community for the first time. This system also supports the local police post, the council guest house and the health centre on the island.
The systems were commissioned last month harnessing the sun’s energy into battery stored power providing 24-hour lighting to the schools and ensuring the Island Council had its own power supply.
This means more than 3,600 people are able to benefit from the sustained power supply with educational, health, government and safety all being boosted as a result of this work.
Ms Ruiti Lotebwa is Teraina Island’s Education Coordinator said the system is benefiting the students learning in many ways with students achieving better results.
“Our work is more efficient with electricity because we can now prepare our lessons, even at night and we are seeing better results and students are able to use tablets for exams when there is no paper for printing” she said.
Teraina Nursing Officer, Ms Tereitabuki Tarangutu, explained that having access to electricity on the island means that managing critical health equipment would become much easier, as well as, managing patients in the dark hours of the night.
“Access to electricity will enable us to use the nebulizer for asthma cases as compared to boiling water with firewood and using hot water vapour. Also in cases where we need to use IV drips, it is now very easy to do, as we have readily available lights to guide, where as in the past, patients are informed to bring torches when they visit the health centre at night time,” she said.
The communities are also now able to access power to charge their mobile phones and tablets at the local Island Council where safety lights have been installed to ensure the community feel safe when accessing internet services after sunset.
Mayor of Teirana Island Council, Mr Kanafou Kieli said the system was bringing continuous power and combatting the fuel shortages that can occur on the island intermittingly.
“Before we experienced discontinuity of power supply due to the generator being short of fuel. Our community now can come and recharge their phones and their lights thanks to the installation of the power capacity,” he said.
The Island Council is also a hub for the community to come and connect with their family overseas and charging and safety is not an issue anymore as there is charging ports and safety lights at night and access to both power and internet.
It’s also improving their access and government reporting to the Capital of Tarawa as the council is now able to send meeting reports and information quickly at anytime of the day said Mayor Kieli.
The project was implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy with administration support by GIZ.. The two 5.5kw solar PV systems on Teraina Island include installation of inverters, solar panels and batteries including wirings of buildings and installation of kWh meter to ensure regular supply of lighting and electricity continues for the community and collection of tariff to assist with costs of repairs and maintenance
Project Officer Koin Etuati said the commissioning was a proud moment as the community themselves were integral in ensuring the sustainability and effectiveness of the project. She said they have also been trained on the use & maintenance of the system.
“We have done energy efficiency awareness with the local community and they are aware of the importance of using efficient appliances such as LED lighting and turning off lighting when the power is not needed,” she said.
The systems also boosted the Health Centre’s access to electricity and for the first time lights are able to be used during the night. This means emergencies and women giving birth can be comfortably supported with the right medical assistance at anytime.
Pacific statistics show 64% of the region are still without access to regular power supply however as the impact of climate change continues to be felt globally, ensuring sustainable, relevant and accessible systems for communities in the Pacific is critical to the education, health, connectivity and sustainable development of our region into the future.
This EU-GIZ Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (ACSE) Programme was made possible through our partners at the European Union and the German Government. The system was designed and implemented by Government of Kiribati, GIZ and Pacific Community (SPC).