The Pacific Community (SPC) opened the first Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency office in Nuku’alofa today.
Speaking to Pacific Ministers for Energy and Transport and invited guests at the opening yesterday afternoon, Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said: “Tonga is privileged to host Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) on behalf of the Pacific. This centre of excellence will provide valuable support to Pacific Island countries and territories towards progressing their respective priorities and commitments for achieving sustainable energy.”
The centre has been established with support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), SIDS DOCK and the Government of Austria. PCREEE is part of a wider SDG-7 Partnership of the SAMOA Pathway which aims at the establishment of a network of regional sustainable energy centres for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
The partnership contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (particularly SDG 7 and SDG9), the Regional Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific and Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement (SDG 13).
Mr. Stein Hansen, UNIDO´s Director and Representative, thanked the Government of Tonga for its leadership and highlighted that "the network of regional centers, represents an excellent way to promote SIDS-SIDS cooperation on common energy island issues. The success of economic key sectors such as fishery, agro-business, manufacturing and tourism highly depend on improved access to more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and transport services.”
According to Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), “the centre is an important contribution to accelerate the shift from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
Hon. Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu and President of the SIDS DOCK Assembly, congratulated all partners for the truly genuine and durable partnership.
Highlighting SPC’s 70th Anniversary and its impact in the region, Pacific Community Director General Dr. Colin Tukuitonga said: “SPC works for the well-being of Pacific people through the effective and innovative application of science and knowledge. PCREEE serves this mission by acting as innovative hub that brings together technical expertise and knowledge from around the world on matters related to sustainable energy project implementation.”
Dr. Tukuitonga explained that there is still a long way to go as this is one of the most fossil-fuel dependent regions in the world.
“Every year, we import about 800 million to 1 billion USD worth of fuel. Most of this fuel is used in transportation and in power generation,” he said.
The PCREEE design leverages a network of intra and extra regional partnerships, serving as a “hub” for knowledge and technical expertise on matters related to sustainable energy project implementation. It will also promote domestic energy entrepreneurship and will act as a business incubator for innovative energy start-ups and business models with high potential for local value creation.
PCREEE will provide a host of support services for the region. Some early initiatives include the development of registries for data, products and training. The Centre will also support the Pacific Energy Regulators Alliance – a network of regulators that set the rules for the private sector investments and the prices / tariffs they will get in return. There are also plans to focus on women and energy – a critical gap in the current regional energy programme.
Tonga was selected as the site for PCREEE as a result of a consultative process, and in recognition of the interest and support by the Government of Tonga in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. PCREEE was established in response to a call made by Pacific Ministers of Energy and Transport Ministers in 2014 for strengthened mechanisms that promote private sector involvement in the sustainable development of Pacific Island countries and territories.
The SPC 70th Anniversary coincides with the opening of PCREEE and the Third Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting concluding in Nuku’alofa on Friday 28 April.
Follow the event via #PRETMM.