June 14, 2007

Renewal energy benefits for Pacific

Renewal energy benefits for Pacific

www.ffijitimes.com - Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Update: 12.16pm FIJI is among several Pacific islands countries that will benefit from a US$9.5million fund provided by the Global Environment Facility for renewal energy electricity.

A statement from the World Bank says assistance will be provided to rural Pacific islanders so they can access low cost, long term finance to purchase electricity at a fraction of the cost they are now paying for diesel, with support from ANZ Bank in the Pacific.

''In the Pacific islands, access to electricity can be as low as 7 per cent in rural areas of Papua New Guinea to a high of 65 per cent in Fiji. However, power generation has been heavily dependent on diesel and most lighting is still provided by kerosene lamps. With the cost of diesel and kerosene soaring in the past two years, many rural households have been spending 25% or more of their income on fuel. Schools in Papua New Guinea have been spending around 70 per cent of their budget on diesel for electricity,'' the statement said.

The Sustainable Energy Financing project will draw on the Pacific islands good renewable energy endowments, particularly solar PV (Solar Photo Voltaic), Pico-Hydro and Biofuels (coconut oil).

The World Bank experience in China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has shown that renewable energy technologies have become a cheaper option for increasing access to electricity for rural households and small enterprises.

The project will also provide technical assistance so that quality energy equipment, such as solar PV kits, pico-hydro units and coconut oil tanks, can be provided reliably.

''The low cost loans over a five year period provided through ANZ Pacific will help to overcome the previous reluctance of local financial institutions to lend money on affordable terms,'' the statement said.

World Bank country director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific, Nigel Roberts said: ''This project has the potential to bring cheap, reliable electricity so that Pacific Islanders can have light at night, listen to the radio, run a small refrigerator and at the same time, use power sources that are environmentally sound and sustainable.''

Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Republic of the Mashall Islands and Fiji will benefit from this project.

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