Three of Fiji’s larger outer islands are set to have more than 40% of their daily electricity demand supplied from solar microgrids, enabling a significant reduction in the use of diesel fuel which is used currently.
The microgrids were constructed by the Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar, with US$5 million support from the United Arab Emirates through the Pacific Partnership Fund.
“The United Arab Emirates and Fiji have a strong bilateral relationship, and we thank the government of the UAE for funding, developing and delivering this important and valuable project,” said Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, at the inaugural event. “The microgrids will provide electricity for homes as well as help produce clean energy to develop small-scale industries and enterprises in these remote islands.”
Three solar microgrids
The three new microgrids include a 249kW solar plant in Kadavu Island, a 153kW solar plant in Lakeba Island and a 153kW solar plant in Rotuma Island.
The energy produced will collectively avoid emitting 722t of CO2 each year and save 259,000l of diesel fuel worth almost US$0.5 million annually.
“Fiji’s new solar-powered grids are a prime example of how renewable energy can be a cost-effective way of producing low-carbon power for Pacific Island countries,” commented Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar. “Masdar is proud to deliver sustainable solutions that provide greater clean access to energy and accelerate economic development globally.”
Reducing diesel fuel use on Pacific islands
Masdar has been active in the Pacific Islands, completing a 500kW solar plant on the Kingdom of Tonga’s island of Vava’u, commissioned in November 2013, and a 550kW wind farm on Samoa, commissioned in August 2014. Both were also financed through the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund.
These Pacific Island projects address the high cost of diesel imports in Pacific countries, as well as delivering reductions in CO2 emissions. Research from the International Renewable Energy Agency indicates that renewable energy is now a cost-competitive source of power in the Pacific Islands. [Engerati-Renewable Energies Offer Cost Effective Alternative For Island Tourist Facilities]
The US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund was launched by the UAE’s minister of foreign affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to support the development of renewable energy projects across a number of Pacific islands. Three further projects, a 400kW solar PV plant in Kiribati, 350kW of rooftop solar PV in Tuvalu and 501kW of solar PV in Vanuatu, are expected to be completed by the second half of 2015. The four final projects that will be funded, a 600kW solar PV plant in the Marshall Islands, 600kW solar PV plant in the Solomon Islands, 500kW solar PV plant in Nauru, and 434 kW of solar PV, a renewables powered water treatment plant and two diesel generators in Palau, are expected to be completed in 2016. [Engerati-Spotlight On South Pacific – On The Way To A Clean Energy Future]