Switching on renewables

Switching on renewables

The ambitious renewable energy targets set by many Pacific Island nations may be running behind schedule, but there is  still a lot of activity and investment in the sector, pandemic notwithstanding.

“Some of them are on track, some of them are really late, and some of them will need to reassess where they're going,” says Paula Vivili, Deputy Director-General (Science and Capability) at the Pacific Community (SPC) of the targets. “There is certainly a commitment from all the countries to be able to move away, for all the reasons that we know, from fossil fuels. And for some of the remote islands, the only possible solution for them would be renewable energy, solar or wind.”

The SPC has an energy team in Suva and hosts the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Tonga. Vivili says besides providing technical advice, SPC also plays a coordinating role when there are multiple partners involved in a project.

“In some places, we help move the dial, from getting work started, encouraging future expansion,  into  energy efficiency.  

“But there are still a significant amount of people still not even getting access. 60% of the Pacific still does not have access to electricity. The majority of these numbers of course are in Melanesia, primarily in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. And so for the smaller countries, not only is the goal of getting electricity a bit simpler, but the goal of them also converting to renewable energy is a little bit more manageable.” The example of Tokelau holds here; it went 100% solar in 2012.

Vivili says coordination is not easy, and the investment needed is significant. “The estimates of what is required are US$3 billion in order to meet the region’s renewable energy targets.”


Read the full version of this story at https://emag.islandsbusiness.com/switching-on-renewables/