USP partners with Department of Energy on Biofuel facility

The Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra and the Director of Energy, Mr Peceli Nakavulevu at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement.

Biofuel producers in Fiji and possibly the region will now have easy access to accredited fuel testing facilities which will ensure that test costs are reduced and the turnaround times for samples to be analyzed are improved.

This after a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed on 21 December 2011, between the University of the South Pacific and the Department of Energy to establish a biofuel testing laboratory.

Under the partnership, a collaborative funding of F$865, 000 will be provided for the laboratory which will be based at USP’s Institute of Applied Science (IAS).

Speaking at the signing, Director of Energy, Mr Peceli Nakavulevu said that the tests carried out in the laboratory will ensure that any fuel imported, produced or retailed in Fiji adheres to the relevant standards outlined in the Fiji Fuel Order.

He explained that the need for a biofuel testing facility is a critical one for the industry as Fiji currently does not have such a facility.

“Providing quality assurance to consumers and oil companies of the product through thorough and accredited testing facilities is important. The technical aspects of this industry need to be closely monitored for successful nationwide implementation,” he added.

According to Mr Nakavulevu, Fiji imports close to a billion dollars worth of fossil fuels annually.

The Department of Energy is actively pursuing various programmes to bring the imports of fuel to a sustainable level. The establishment of the laboratory is an initiative towards complementing the work undertaken in the area of biofuels by the Government, he elaborated.

In acknowledging USP’s partnership, Mr Nakavulevu said, “we strongly believe that this project will enhance future cooperation in strategic areas between the University and the Department of Energy.”

The project will be carried out in two phases. The first phase involves the funding by the Government of Fiji for the purchase of specialized equipment for testing the critical fuel properties. The second phase will ensure that all properties listed under the Fiji Fuel Order can be tested locally.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra described the set-up of the laboratory as an important one for the region.

“This laboratory will strengthen the capacity of USP and contribute to the sustainable development choices of its member countries,” he stated.

In thanking the Government of Fiji for selecting IAS to house the laboratory, Professor Chandra said that the facility will further enhance USP’s profile in serving the needs of the region.

Being the only accredited lab in food, water, environment, chemical and microbiological testing in the South-West Pacific, IAS makes such resources available to organisations, governments, businesses and people in the region. This reflects the University’s commitment in maintaining standards and quality across the region, the Vice-Chancellor said.

In expressing USP’s keenness to work with the Department of Energy, Professor Chandra added, “we welcome any future opportunity to work closely with the Government of Fiji on programmes that will benefit the region.”

Present at the signing were representatives from the Department of Energy, USP staff and members of the media.

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