Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), the international development finance institution assisting developing member countries in reducing poverty, just announced their support to make renewable energy possible in the Pacific areas.
Through a grant worth US $3 million, ADB will help bring renewable energy to three small projects in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
“The assistance is key to improving power services in the region and is one of a number of initiatives ADB is undertaking to address climate change in the Pacific,” said Eugenue Zhukov, regional director of ADB‘s Pacific liaison and coordination office in Sydney.
He added that the ADB technical assistance also aims to help Pacific countries lessen their dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Activities for the grant include small hydroelectric projects in Papua New Guinea, the promotion of alternative fuels project such as coconut oil in the Solomon Islands, and support for the development of a grid-based solar farm in Vanuatu.
The grant was approved under the ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility which promotes energy security and a transition to low-carbon economies through cost-effective investments.
The project is meant to address the shortage of electricity in the Pacific countries. Rural electrification in Papua New Guinea is less than 10%, while it is 7% in Vanuatu and 5% in the Solomon Islands.
The grant will come from the Multi-Donor Clean Energy Fund financed by the governments of Australia, Norway, Spain and Sweden, and administered by the ADB, with the governments of the three Pacific areas giving a cash contribution of $200,000 each. The assistance will be delivered over three years.
The use of nature’s energy, according to UNESCO, enabled people to survive and prosper in the Pacific Islands more than anywhere else in the world. Wind provided the power for sailing into and around the region, biomass was used for cooking, crops and fish were dried under the sun, and oil lamps and fires gave light.
Papua New Guinea, according to experts, is blessed with rich renewable resources including solar, biomass, hydro, wind, geothermal and ocean energy, owing to its favorable and advantageous geographical, topographical and geological characters and features.
The Solomon Islands are another area that has good renewable energy endowments, such as solar, pico-hydro and coconut oil for biofuels.
In 2007, power generation in the Solomon Islands, was heavily dependent on diesel and most lighting is provided by kerosene lamps, causing households to spend more than 25% of their income on fuel.