The school community of Alfred Sadd Memorial College (ASMC) on Abemama Island in Kiribati, is now enjoying permanent lighting, cold drinks and other benefits that come with the installation of a 20 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid system at the school.
The school is owned by the Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) and is located at New Cannan, Tabiang on Abemama. Some 68 students, 20 teachers and 50 household members are directly benefiting from this new solar system.
This has been made possible through the European Union (EU) funded Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (ACSE) Programme, which is jointly implemented by the German development agency (GIZ), Government of Kiribati and the Pacific Community (SPC).
ASMC school principal, Mr Birita Mamoe, acknowledged the support of the EU and partners in helping make a difference to the education of students and lifestyles of people at the school.
“A reliable energy source is one important key to improving school performance and delivery. Our students, teachers and homes can now enjoy more efficient use of electrical appliances such as projectors, laptops, as well as access to reliable lighting – 24 hours a day. Students can study at night, teachers can prepare for class and, of course, the power is used for home life and recreation,” Mamoe said.
“Before the installation of the 20 kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid system, the school ran a 7 kilowatt diesel generator, which provided electricity within the school compound. We ran the generator from 6.30pm to 9.30pm each evening, and sometimes during the day when required by the school”, he said.
Kiribati is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels for power generation and transportation energy use. SPC estimates that 28 per cent of total volume of fossil fuels imported to Kiribati is used for power generation on the main islands of Betio and South Tarawa. In 2013, 22 million litres of fossil fuels, 12 million of diesel fuel, 7 million of petrol and 3 million of kerosene fuel, was imported from Fiji and distributed across Kiribati.
The new solar system in ASMC fulfils the Government of Kiribati’s National Energy Policy target of achieving 100 percent renewable energy in rural boarding schools by 2025, this being the last system to be installed in a suitable boarding school.
Working alongside the school’s existing diesel generator, the solar system generates lighting for the school classrooms, dormitories, maneaba and staff residence. The school also operates a small laundry service for students and households as well as a kiosk, and plans to charge school residence a modest tariff to access the solar system. The school will deposit income from these sources into a sinking fund, which the school will use exclusively to maintain the solar system.
Along with the solar system, the EU-GIZ ACSE Solar Boarding Schools project provided ASMC with LED lights for school buildings and households to help reduce their energy demand.
The project’s commissioning and handover ceremony was held at ASMC on Saturday 17 November 2018.