The United States has awarded alternative energy grants to ‘Alofa Tuvalu’, a non-governmental organization in Tuvalu, and to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji. The awards, made through the Regional Environment Office at the U.S. Embassy in Suva, were part of a competitive program offering small grants to local, national, and regional non-governmental organisations for funding support to projects that help to secure a healthy environment for current and future generations.
The USP’s Department of Physics in the Division of Engineering received a grant of US$21,000 to fund a solar renewable energy system at its Laucala Campus. Titled ‘Development of a Solar Renewable Energy System’ and led by Dr Atul Raturi, the project will strengthen the capacity of USP to advance clean energy technologies contributing to the sustainable development choices of USP member countries. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the project will focus on capacity building and creating awareness of solar renewable energy. The project will result in the reduction of about 1.6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and generate about 1 megawatt-hour of power annually.
The United States also awarded US$10,000 to Alofa Tuvalu for its 'Tuvalu Biofuels Project’, which is managed by Gilliane Le Gallic. This funding will support the purchase, shipment, and installation of a small bio-fuel power generation plant for training and for demonstrating uses of copra bio-diesel derived from gasified coconut shells and husks. Alofa Tuvalu has recently set up workshops to demonstrate these technologies in Tuvalu. It is planning a second public workshop on June 5 for Environment Day. The next step is to start using the bio-diesel and the gasifier for electricity production, expected to begin later this month. The project has ambitions to extend these technologies throughout the nine islands of Tuvalu.
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires for Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, Mr Richard Pruett expressed delight at the attention that alternative energy ventures are now receiving in the Pacific. He says the United States is continuously looking to support projects that provide sustainable solutions to today’s energy and environmental challenges.
“The Pacific Island Countries can be a great test bed for alternative energy technologies, and nowhere else are the impacts of high energy costs felt so strongly”, he said. “Using alternatives to fossil fuels will potentially save them money, enhance their energy security, and cut back on their greenhouse gas emissions. With the proper support, the PICs could blaze the trail toward sustainable development and climate change adaptation” says Mr Pruett.
He also says he is delighted to see ventures into bio-diesel generation by companies like Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF). Chargé Pruett and Regional Environment Officer, Dr Norman Barth, discussed FMF’s new commercial venture with company chairman Mr Hari Punja and FMF's American venture partner Mr Tim Wentzel.
Mr Pruett says, “It's especially gratifying to see the spin-off benefits from such ventures go directly toward copra farmers on the smaller islands of Fiji. This is only the start of what can be accomplished through free enterprise and the use of emerging U.S. green technologies”.
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