Private sector investment is the way to go


Photo caption: His Majesty Tupou VI inspecting the Matatoa Solar Farm in Tonga

Following five earlier grant aid-funded solar farms, the Kingdom of Tonga finally commissioned its first large scale independent power producer facility on Thursday 19 October 2017 – Matatoa Solar Farm. The 2 megawatt grid-connected solar farm is the first and obviously the largest in the Kingdom to date.

The Nuku’alofa-based Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) has acknowledged and congratulated Tonga for the right path it has taken and the model it is providing for the Pacific Islands.

“The national renewable energy targets of the Pacific Islands cannot be achieved in a sustainable manner through grant aids alone. We need to empower the private sector to be the driver of the renewable energy movement in the Pacific Islands,” said Solomone Fifita, Manager of PCREEE.

Quite number of Pacific Island countries are currently reviewing and drafting legislations that will enable the private sector to generate electricity, a monopolistic role that has traditionally been reserved for the government-owned power utilities.

For the PCREEE and the Energy Programme of the Pacific Community (SPC), technical assistance is currently being provided to Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The commercial confidence of the private sector is paramount and herein lies the crucial role of regulators (Electricity Commission in Tonga). Power purchase agreements that would run for 20 to 30 years need the regulators to ensure there is fairness on both parties and the interests of the consumers are protected at all times.

PCREEE will continue with the Pacific Community’s targeted capacity building assistance to the energy regulators in the region and is currently working on establishing a Pacific Energy Regulators Alliance, a direction from the region’s Energy Ministers, to facilitate sharing of best practices on the engagement with independent power producers and other roles of the regulators.

Among the coming priority activities of the PCREEE would be the convening of national renewable energy investment forums where bankable renewable energy projects can be presented to independent power producers and potential investors, development partners and local and multilateral financial institutions and funds and where government can present the enabling environment it has created for private sector investments.

PCREEE was established through a direction by the Pacific Islands Energy Ministers to support island member countries of the Pacific Community to improve access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services and energy security by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, markets and industries and to act as a facilitator for innovative partnerships with the private sector.

PCREEE is co-hosted by SPC and the Tonga Government at Nuku’alofa, Tonga and is a collaboration between SPC, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, SIDS Dock, the Government of Tonga and the Government of Austria.

Media contact:
Atishma Lal, SPC Project Information Assistant, [email protected] or +679 3379402

PCREEE contact:
Solomone Fifita, Manager, PCREEE, Corner of Taufa’ahau and Wellington Roads, Nuku’alofa, Phone +676 25209, [email protected]

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