Panellists (From L-R): Associate Professor Evanthie Michalena, Dr Mathew Dornan, and Mr Taniela Faletau.
A plenary session discussing ‘Renewable Energy in the Pacific’ was part of the 2017 Pacific Update Conference on 21 June 2017, which was co-organised by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Economics, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australian National University’s (ANU) Development Policy Centre.
Chaired by USP’s Dr Ajal Kumar, the panellists included Associate Professor Evanthie Michalena, Adjunct Associate Professor at University of Sunshine Coast, Dr Mathew Dornan, Deputy Director of ANU’s Development Policy Centre, and Mr Taniela Faletau, Safeguards Officer based at ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Suva.
Professor Michalena presented on Upscaling the Green Energy Transition to Achieve Renewable Energy Targets.
The international community directs significant funding towards the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) for climate change. The largest development sector recipient is Renewable Energy.
Professor Michalena informed that the National Determined Contribution (NDC) of Fiji has set a target of 81% of renewable energy share in grid electricity supply by 2020 and 100% in 2030.
The modelling conducted had determined possible energy transitions for the NDC 2020 and 2030 targets, using installed capacities, capacity factors and electricity generated for each energy technology now operating in Fiji.
Professor Michalena and her team also conducted a regional analysis across 12 PICTs using governance, market, and financial progress indicators in order to identify renewable energy preparedness.
“The results showed that strengthening of renewable energy enabling factors leads to minimal increase in renewable energy preparation,” Professor Michalena said.
With the largest sector of climate expenditure leading to renewable energy penetration well behind global averages, she said that there is a need for PICTs to attain a self-defined energy identity.
In his presentation, Dr Dornan spoke about governments and donors for renewable energy in the Pacific.
He explored the interplay between the role of aid and energy policy in the development of renewable energy resources in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Through Dr Dornan’s presentation, it was found out that the importance of development assistance has implications for the sustainability of renewable energy development, given that “funding is not always accompanied by necessary energy policy reforms.”
He highlighted that if economic objective is primary, direct donor funding of projects makes little sense. He also stated that it is better to focus on getting the policies and regulations right so as to facilitate market investment (including by the utility).
“But, donors still have a role to play in overcoming market failures for instance, overcoming credit constraints where credit markets are imperfect,” Dr Dornan said.
While talking about ADB’s Pacific Renewable Energy initiatives, Mr Faletau said that they use the three tiered approach which is to
• Promote energy efficiency and renewable energy;
• Maximize access to energy for all; and
• Promote energy sector reform, capacity building, and effective governance.
This approach, Mr Faletau said leverages national and regional partnerships to strengthen energy systems, support low-carbon economic growth, and improve living conditions across ADB’s Pacific developing member countries.
ADB, he added, is supporting access to energy, renewable energy generation, efficient use of resources, and strengthening public and private sector institutions in the Pacific.
He informed the participants that in total, ADB has a current Pacific energy sector portfolio of $355.14 million, with a pipeline of 17 projects in 11 Pacific countries worth $725.29 million including $449.89 million in co-financing from 2017- 2020.
Mr Faletau also provided some illustrations of ADB’s energy operations in Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands.
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