Two Pacific island nations will this week inaugurate individual solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants funded by the United Arab Emirates and developed by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.
Starting yesterday, Tuvalu inaugurated a 500 kW solar PV power plant on the atoll of Funafuti. A 500 kW solar PV and water protection plant on the Tarawa atoll of the Republic of Kiribati, will also be officially inaugurated this week. The inaugurations mark the completion of the two solar PV projects co-designed and managed by Masdar in cooperation with the governments of the Pacific island countries of Tuvalu and Kiribati.
The projects form part of the UAE’s support for economic and social development of Pacific island nations, while also showcasing the viability of sustainable clean energy development models. The projects aim to reduce the Pacific island nations’ dependency on imported diesel, freeing up essential financial resources for other developmental projects.
The plant located on Funafuti – the most populated atoll that hosts the capital of the Tuvalu island nation – was funded by the US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
The majority of the system is built on a 4 metre structure creating 1,840 m2 of shaded public space that is limited on the atoll. In addition, it includes a new workshop-storage facility with 540 m² floor space, as well as further space for office and recreational use. The Funafuti solar and space creation project will not only supply electricity to over 800 homes by yearly generating 783,000 kWh, but will also save 206,000 litres of diesel each year – bringing about a saving of US$280,000 and a reduction in CO₂ emissions of 570 tons annually
The inauguration in Tuvalu was attended by Dr Mohammed Al Qubaisi, Director of the Energy Affairs Division in the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and Tuvalu Prime Minister the Honourable Enele Sosene Spoaga, as well as the Governor General the Honourable Otinielu Tauteleimalae Tausi.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, speaking from Abu Dhabi, said: “These two projects not only demonstrate the UAE and Masdar’s commitment to helping Pacific island nations deploy sustainable renewable energy solutions, which play a vital role in driving forward the social and economic development for the people of Tuvalu and Kiribati, but clearly, and equally important, also highlight the ongoing work we are doing to combat climate change through our renewable energy projects.”
According to Dr Belhoul, the acceleration of the adoption of renewable energy and reduction of pollution are imperatives to promote climate change mitigation – and therefore the diversification of the energy mix through deployment of renewable energy is considered vital to this goal.
“As a strong supporter of COP 21 as well as the energy-related sustainable development goal adopted by the United Nations, Masdar’s efforts to limit the impact of climate change, including our commitment to broaden access to clean energy for a greater number of people, are clearly demonstrated through the delivery of the solar plants of Tuvalu and Kiribati,” he added.
The Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said: “The Solar Space Creation Project could not have come at a better time as the price of fuel has soared in recent years. This project would contribute approximately 40% towards the Tuvalu Electricity Corporation peak demand which could save more than 200,000 litres of diesel fuel per annum, about 8% of the annual fuel consumption of the Fogafale Power Station. The existing total generation capacity equals 1.8 megawatts of which 22% is by the Solar Space Creation Project”.
SOLAR WATER PROTECTION PROJECT – KIRIBATI
Development of the 500 kW solar and water protection project on Tarawa, Kiribati, was started in December 2014, and completed in August this year. It will officially be inaugurated later this week. The republic, comprising 33 coral atolls, lies in the Central Pacific, and has a population of more than 100,000 – half of whom live on Tarawa atoll where the capital, South Tarawa, is situated.
The plant protects the only aquifer located on the island that has been under threat of contamination due to high levels of human migration to the area as a result of limited living space. The plant features advanced technologies to control output and will annually deliver 855,000 kWh to 860 homes. It will cut back on more than 227,000 litres of diesel, resulting in an approximate saving of US$265,000 which may be repurposed for other developmental areas. The plant will also reduce CO₂ emissions by 627 tons each year.
The Honourable Waysang Kumkee, Minister for Public Works and Utilities of Kiribati, said: “Sustainable energy is a prerequisite for developmental and economic growth for any society. The renewable energy to be delivered through the solar and water protection plant in Tarawa helps the country overcome not only the constraints of natural fuel resources, but also eases access to large numbers of individuals and families to sustainable electricity provision.”
Of the projects being delivered under the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund, several have already been delivered or are currently under construction. The first completed project was the 512 kW solar PV installation in Tonga, while others include the first ever 550 kW wind farm for Samoa, and three micro grid solar plants in Fiji that supply clean energy to some of the nation’s outer islands, as well as the solar plants for Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu. Further projects in the Marshal and Solomon islands, Palau and Nauru are under construction as planned, with yet another project for the Federated States of Micronesia to be signed shortly.