USP installs renewable energy-based refrigeration systems
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Dr Raturi with villagers in Mali, elated with the new energy-based refrigeration system.
The provision of renewable energy-based refrigeration systems by The University of the South Pacific (USP) in two remote fishing communities in Fiji have brought income-generation potential and smiles to their faces.
Project coordinator Dr Atul Raturi acknowledged the French Pacific Fund which enabled the Sustainable Energy for Sustainable Development project to install these systems for the villagers of Tavuki in Kadavu and Vesi on Mali Island in Macuata, Vanua Levu.
He explained that due to the remoteness of the communities, villagers have no means to store their catch for long periods, the result of which most of it are often discarded as it fails to reach the market on time.
According to Dr Raturi, a solar PV +Battery system with or without a backup generator, can help power freezers using solar energy.
“A techno-economic analysis shows the win-win situation for all stakeholders from fishermen to consumers through the implementation of these systems. The overall impact of these small interventions is significant in terms of improved livelihood,” he noted.
Under the current funding of close to 100,000 FJD, four systems have been installed that include Wainika and Vesi village in Vanua Levu, Yanuca Island in Viti Levu and Tavuki in Kadavu. A fifth system is being installed in Kia Island, Vanua Levu.
Mr Epeli Boteanakadavu, Tavuki Solar refrigeration caretaker, said the project has impacted positively on the community and helped to upgrade the livelihood of families.
“The 23 families that were the initial houses under the proposal have been courteous enough in allowing the whole of Tavuki village and nearby villages to use the chest freezers for food storage.
“We have really made full use of the system and we have come to appreciate the kind assistance we have been given,” Mr Boteanakadavu said.
“Individual fish catch and community fish catch have been stored and kept in this system until it is ready to be sold for monetary gains. It is not only used for storing fish but is also used chest for other frozen food as well,” he noted.
Mr Boteanakadavu also revealed that the system has also been used for other storage purposes, hence creating other sources of income for the community.
“Children and adults now have access to ice-cream and ice blocks, which was previously impossible. There is now a committee b
eing formed to look after funds from these sales and from fish storage,” he added.
Furthermore he mentioned that “communities have acknowledged that most of the village and wider Tavuki tikina meetings and gatherings have been held in this community house as it has lights powered by the system. Our generator is usually on for mainly two hours per day thus the advantage of having the system in this house,” he added.
Ms. Temalesi Buivanawalu speaking on behalf of Vesi residents thanked the French government and the USP for providing this facility.
Dr Raturi acknowledged the support of the French Embassy in Suva, without which the project would not have been possible.
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