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USP, UNSW work on enhancing sustainable electricity access

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UNSW and USP students attending training at USP.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) has joined hands with UNSW Institute for Global development, School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering and the Australian Renewable Energy (RE) agency (Mission Innovation Challenge 2)  for a collaborative project that looks at developing solutions for expanding sustainable energy access in the PICs  through interactions with stakeholders.

The project aims to map out progress made to date towards the high RE targets set by countries and identify challenges and innovative solutions.

One of the major aims of this collaboration is to develop staff and student exchange and joint supervision of USP and UNSW research students taking advantage of strengths available at the two institutions.

USP has done a significant amount of work with remote communities in terms of off-grid RE-based solutions for enhancing livelihoods and sustainable development. 

Dr. Anna Bruce, Dr. Iain Macgill and Dr. Jose Bilbao, UNSW project partners, are developing courses in collaboration with Dr. Atul Raturi from USP, focused on sustainable energy for small islands. The courses involve joint teaching and supervision combined with students’ field trips to project sites.

In a recent development, a regional workshop titled Sustainable Energy Access; From Targets to Implementation was held at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour on 29 - 30 August 2019.  Project partners USP, UNSW, CSIRO, IT Power Australia, Clean Energy Solutions Centre (CESC) and GSES Australia formed the organising team. The workshop organisation was spearheaded by Dr. Anna Bruce (UNSW) and Dr. Atul Raturi (USP) and was facilitated by Mr. Danny DeSchutter from Think Place Australia.

The main objectives of the workshop were to:

• Create a vision for the future;
• Understand where each country is at, and how energy may help broader SDG objectives for each country;
• Explore different regional initiatives that may deliver the vision for the future, and resources available through development partners;
• Define a set of promising collaborative initiatives for regional approaches, standardisation and scaling up; and set a
• Roadmap and kick-start initiatives and collaborations

Workshop participants at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.

The invitation only workshop was attended by more than 50 people comprising eight Pacific Island country/utility representatives, development partners like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN Development Programme, GIZ, Pacific Islands Development Forum, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and technical experts from UNSW, CSIRO, IT Power, Clean Energy Solutions Centre, representatives from couple of embassies, community members from our project island Yanuca among others. Twelve students from UNSW and USP also attended the workshop.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Atul Raturi, USP project partner welcomed the participants and encouraged them to come up with ideas that would accelerate the expansion of renewable energy based electricity in the Pacific region.

He suggested that the country representatives actively interact with the technical and financial experts in the room to help find their country specific solutions to their energy challenges.

The workshop began with an introduction of ‘Design thinking’ that lead to a session called ‘futuring’ where the participants discussed a vision for sustainable future. There were three major panel discussions during the workshop comprising country/utility representatives, capacity building institutions and development partners respectively.

Country presentations ranged from lack of electricity access in PNG to managing higher RE into national grids in Samoa and Tonga. USP, GSES, PPA, IT Power and SPC deliberated on the need and status of various training and research activities in the region. Development partners presented their activities in the Pacific energy scene.

Mr. Tatafu Moeaki, Senior Country Coordination Officer, ADB Tonga office talked about the myriad energy projects ADB is involved in and the proposed energy dedicated ADB office in the region. Mr. Kamlesh Khelawan from the World Bank described the various energy related activities. Ms. Vickey Healey (NREL) talked about the assistance that CESC can provide to governments in the area of policy development for deployment of clean energy technologies. She also briefly introduced International Solar Alliance (ISA) and its global role in enhancing solar energy applications. The final session of the workshop deliberated on the diversity of ideas generated and how to take them forward through some tangible actions.

In closing, Dr. Raturi thanked the facilitator and participants for their cooperation and implored the PIC representatives to help their governments reach their NDC targets while developing a sustainable electricity sector.

The educational visit by UNSW students included a fieldtrip to USP’s project site in Yanuca. In order to prepare the students for carrying out basic maintenance tasks for off-grid systems, a one-day training was organised at the Renewable Training Lab at USP.  The training was facilitated by GSES Australia and USP PH414 (PV power generation) students also took part in this hands-on exercise. This training gave UNSW and USP students an opportunity to interact and compare notes on their sustainable energy aspirations.

It is hoped that this workshop has prepared the groundwork for various stakeholders to come together and propel the Pacific region towards a clean energy future. The role of USP in regional capacity building was well understood and appreciated by all participants.

This news item was published on 12 Sep 2019 11:37:23 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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