Access to energy from renewables in small islands

The Pacific Region covers 15 countries with 9 Million people scattered around an area with 1/3 of the planet, and this area is very difficult for providing energy services because:

  • Geographic conditions vary widely
  • The Pacific market is very thin
  • Limited capacity exists to devise and implement sustainable energy policies
  • Extreme weather events are not uncommon
  • Pacific Islands do not have indigenous fossil fouls resources and are heavily reliant on imported petrol

For the energy development picture, this means that:

  • Access to energy varies widely – some countries have 100% access to energy, some have only 10% or less
  • Quality of power and reliability is very different from country to country

The increase of the price of fossil fuels is very problematic as it actually accounts for 95% of fuel use in the Pacific.

So renewable energy is the core solution for small islands in avoiding huge dependence and expenditure on imported fossil fuels, and to minimize environmental impact of fossil fuel energy generation and use. It also provides various ways to transit to low carbon economy development.

The side event hosted jointly by REEEP and IRENA at DIREC 2010 addressed the following issues:

  • the major barriers to the widespread adoption of renewables,
  • the institutions which are critical to driving the transition to renewables,
  • the most effective instruments/ policies,
  • the areas of capacity building needed to support the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies,
  • the renewable energy technologies’ main sources of financing.

Smedley, Counselor for Resources, Energy and Tourism (India), Australian High Commission

Hugo Lucas, Director for Policy, Capacity Building and Outreach, IRENA
started the session by introducing IRENA and REEEP and highlighted that this is the first joint event of IRENA and REEEP.  Denis Smedley, Counselor for Resources, Energy and Tourism (India), Australian High Commission also highlighted REEEPs good work in the Region and its importance for the Pacific.

Eva Oberender, Director of REEEP South East Asia gave a short overview on the current status in Pacific Islands, the main barriers and the findings from several years work in the region.

Currently there are several efforts undertaken to increase the supply from RE sources on a national and regional level.

On a national level, Tonga has set up an Energy Roadmap in partnership with IRENA and REEEP, as well as many other organizations. The Roadmap has two major objectives:

  • 50% electricity from renewable sources by 2012
  • 50% reduction of overall cost of electricity

Providing quality electricity options to outer island communities that are sustainable financially, environmentally and socially is the declared goal.

Success factors of the Tonga Energy Road Map (for more details have a look on our blog article on the Tonga Energy Road Map):

  • Strong government leadership
  • Active development partner cooperation
  • Consideration of the whole electricity sector including petroleum, efficiency improvements and RE
  • Lesson learnt: data is very important and continuous update is needed as data improves

On a regional level, a Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific was developed which

  • promotes whole of sector approach
  • clarifies how regional services can assist countries to develop and implement their national plans
  • and shows how numerous stakeholders shall contribute to energy security

Summarizing there are some recommendations for policy frameworks in small islands:

  • address distributed institutional responsibility for the energy sector.
  • build capacity and skills of energy officers
  • gather data
  • simplify regulatory and oversight process
  • address gaps and inconsistencies in policy and legal framework
  • involve the utilities and the private sector
  • work collaboratively with development partners

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