India helps launch solar generation system in Pacific countries

An 18.25 kW solar generation system has been launched at the Fiji State House, that will supply the state house with an annual energy production of approximately 20,000 units of electricity.

As the countries aspire towards the 2030 Agenda in the upcoming years, they have also taken leadership in reducing their carbon footprint and showcasing climate action with high level commitment in transforming Presidential residences to full clean energy thus closing energy gaps.

Pacific Island Countries (PICs) face multiple energy challenges, including: i) a limited range of indigenous energy resources, ii) the high cost of developing energy resources and extending service to remote populations, iii) poor quality of energy data and trends, iv) a small base of skilled people with energy knowledge, and v) weak bargaining positions with fossil fuel suppliers making energy unaffordable. These challenges affect all individuals, regardless of gender, and it’s important to ensure that both men and women have equal access to resources and opportunities in the energy sector.

Image: Solarization project in State House (Source: UNDP)

In terms of electricity access, there is significant variation across the region. Nearly all households in Niue, Nauru, Palau, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu have access to electricity. However, in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, overall electrification rates remain very low, at about 20 percent of households or less. There are low-income households in most PICs, which use little electricity because of the high costs of fossil fuel-based electricity generation, even though it can be easily accessed. It’s crucial to consider the specific needs and circumstances of these households, which may include women-headed households, in energy planning and policymaking.

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The Pacific has shown strong support for renewable energy, driven by the need to address climate change and energy security, as well as to mitigate high electricity costs. Many Pacific nations have set ambitious targets to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2030 and transition to nearly 100 percent renewable energy sources. Solar energy is particularly attractive due to its cost-effectiveness, with technology costs having decreased by 80 percent over the past decade and less operation and maintenance required.

Image: Installed solar panels at the Fiji State House (Source: UNDP)

An 18.25 kW solar generation system has been launched at the Fiji State House, that will supply the state house with an annual energy production of approximately 20,000 units of electricity. This translates into FJD $74,000 annual savings on energy cost from a clean energy source. This achievement been made possible with generous funding support from the Government of India through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund and the United Nations Development Programme. As we celebrate this milestone, let’s also remember the importance of gender equality in the energy sector and strive to ensure that both women and men can contribute to, and benefit from, the transition to renewable energy.

Image: Fiji’s Head of State, His Excellency President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere (Source: UNDP)

During the launch, Fiji’s Head of State, His Excellency President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere stated that the project is an example of a whole-of-society approach, specifically a multi-stakeholder partnership, with partners from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society. 

“With funding from the India – UN (United Nations) Development Fund, and close partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF), the initiative is an important milestone towards creating awareness among different stakeholders as well as the general public on the adoption of solar energy as a source of clean, renewable energy,” President Katonivere said.

“This will bring Fiji a step closer to achieving its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target of reaching close to 100 percent renewable energy power generation (grid-connected) by 2030 and a reduction of 20 percent of CO2 emissions from the energy sector under a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario. It will also contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.”

The PIDF and UNDP Pacific are currently implementing a program known as “Solarization of Head of State Residences (SOHS),” which aims to support the adoption of green energy in 11 PIDF member countries, including Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Palau, and Tuvalu. 

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This article was first published by the UNDP publication which showcases the organization’s thought leadership and expertise and play a key role in fulfilling our mandate to support the realisation of the SDGs and encourage global development.

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