Pacific Energy Summit Secures Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding

The Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, which brought together Pacific Island leaders, international investment and development banks, aid donor countries and private sector representatives, resulted in funding commitments of US $635 million to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Pacific Island countries.

The commitments entail US$255 million in grant funding and US$380 million in concessional loans to support over 40 of the 79 proposed projects and activities. Partners that have made commitments include: Australia; New Zealand; the United Arab Emirates (UAE); the EU; the Asian Development Bank (ADB); the European Investment Bank (EIB); the Japan International Cooperation Agency; and the World Bank Group.

The projects are intended to foster sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as mitigate climate change. The projects will contribute to the goal of Pacific Island countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2015, as envisioned in the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy project (PIGGAREP).

The Summit, which was held from 24-26 March, was co-organized by the Government of New Zealand and the EU. The Summit featured plenary sessions on: renewable energy in the Pacific; and Pacific energy plans and roadmaps. Parallel sessions were held on: energy challenges and opportunities; financing renewable energy and energy efficiency; and mobilizing the private sector in the Pacific.

The Pacific Energy Summit was preceded by a two-day Pacific Leaders Energy Summit in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on 21-22 March. Pacific Island country leaders discussed national energy strategies and roadmaps to support the further deployment of renewable energy in the region. The Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) was highlighted as a useful case study of a whole of sector approach to energy development. Addressing the Summit, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), emphasized the role that small island developing States (SIDS) have played in securing a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. She called for enhanced and speedier action at the international, national and private sector levels to achieve a low-carbon economy.”

We have extracted below a number of interesting quotes that emphasise how people view the significance of the Summit and the approach to alternative energy:

“Everybody will thank us in ten years’ time if we can say we came here, we understood the challenge, we were presented with a range of solutions and as partners we gripped them up and delivered them. That is how we will measure the success of this conference.” Murray McCully, New Zealand Foreign Minister.

 “If we are to put an end to energy poverty and to make sustainable energy for all a living reality, through its energy corp in the Pacific the EU has been working hard to address specific challenges. This includes access, reliance on fossil fuels, sector reforms, energy efficiency and capacity building.” Andris Piebalgs, The EU commissioner.

 “But what is motivating us to change how we do business is the promise of affordable clean energy generation that will break down barriers to growth and prosperity. We are convinced the energy tug of war is coming to an end.” Henry Puna, The Cook Islands PM.

 “We’re excited at the prospect of even substituting fossil fuel to a small extent at this stage…..the system being envisaged will only produce around 500 kilowatts, but this is the beginning of what I hope will be a pattern, the trend in the future.” President Anote Tong.

“We are all atolls barely 2 to 3 metres above sea level. The vulnerability of these islands to climate change means it’s important we don’t differentiate between the priorities of climate change and energy, they go together.” Tony de Brum, The Marshall Islands energy minister.

Energy director Tim Jones believes ocean technology is one way for the territory to achieve its target of producing all its energy from renewable sources within four years.

American Samoa already has a photovoltaic system in place that can deliver 1 point 8 megawatts of power, but there are significant limits.

“As the sun comes over, or a cloud comes over and blocks the sun the power immediately drops off and we can lose up to 10% of our power generation really fast. This means that the utility has to continue to run a generator and burn diesel fuel just to standby for a cloud, and this is not really an efficient way to operate a solar PV system so we are looking at different types of renewables not subject to interruptions.”

 “Small Island Developing States alone cannot bend the curve of global emissions. It is in other regions that major transformation to renewable energy needs to take place. There is hardly a group of countries in the world like the SIDS that are more vulnerable to the present increase of global emissions.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The national differences between one island and the other demand national specific solutions. This can be done with vision, leadership, and commitment, smart and strategic partnerships. Do not let the process kill the outcome, let it finalise today with concrete results and projects to move forward.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“What I have learned from all of you is there is no magical solution, no quick fix, no one size fits all,” Christina Figueres.

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