Firstly, I take this occasion on behalf of the Government and the people of Vanuatu to convey our deepest gratitude to the Government of United Arab Emirate for the kind financial assistance towards this 767 kilo Watt solar PV system. I also acknowledge the technical and engineering support of Clay Energy of Fiji and their local sub-contractor, Power and Communications Services for the fine engineering works and successful completion of the solar system installation.
Ladies and gentlemen, the launching of this solar PV project today marks a milestone in the development of Vanuatu’s energy sector and an important contribution towards achieving Government’s renewable energy target of 100% for Vanuatu by the year, 2030, as outlined in the National Energy Road Map.
The Road Map has an overall vision; “to energize Vanuatu’s growth and development through the provision of secure, affordable, widely accessible, high quality, clean energy services for an educated, healthy, and wealthy Vanuatu.” The document also outlines the energy related targets for the country to be achieved in the period, 2013 to 2020.
The Roadmap has a focus on the five energy sector priorities:
1) Access – Access to secure, reliable and affordable electricity for all Citizens by 2030
2) Petroleum Supply: Reliable, Secure and Affordable Petroleum Supply throughout Vanuatu
3) Affordability – A more affordable and low cost of energy services in Vanuatu
4) Energy Security: An Energy Secure Vanuatu at all times, and
5) Climate Change- Mitigating climate change through renewable energy and energy efficiency.
These objectives and targets may sound ambitious, however, they set the benchmark by which the Government envisages to achieve in the medium to long term. Therefore, a strong collaboration between the Government, energy stakeholders and our development partners is paramount in achieving these development milestones.
The increasing effects of climate change, such as the tropical Cyclone Pam which severely devastated the central and southern islands of Vanuatu last year, followed by a period of 12 months severe drought, and the continuing sea level rise affecting our low laying islands are indications that the social and economic welfare of our people, including infrastructure assets and our natural habitats will becoming more prone to effects of natural disasters.
The Government of Vanuatu therefore maintains its stance to support and promote environmental friendly practices that discourage greenhouse gas emissions. The Government will also pursue mitigation actions to protect our environment and rehabilitate livelihood for those affected.
Therefore, in the energy sector, the Government supports the use of renewable energy with a target of 100 percent in use of renewable energy for electricity generation by 2030. In 2015, 29 percent of electricity generated in our four electricity concessions used renewable energy sources such as biofuel, wind, hydro and solar.
Along with this, I’m happy to announce other renewable energy projects in the country which are now in the stages of completion and about to operate;
1. A 1.5 kilowatt solar PV system currently installed at Devils Point area funded by the European Union and the Vanuatu Government;
2. A 48 kilowatt biofuel system installed in Sola in Banks funded by the EU and the Vanuatu Government to serve households in Sola and Mossina villages;
3. A 144 kilowatt biofuel systems installed in East Ambae funded by the EU and the Vanuatu Government to service 200 households;
4. A 75 kilowatt hydro system at Talise River in Maewo, funded by the Italian Government and the Vanuatu Government to serve 260 households, and
5. A 3 kilowatt hydro project in Loltong, Pentecost to service 60 households.
Furthermore, I would like to announce the following pipeline projects which the Government is currently working on in partnership with a couple of our development partners to develop in two of our islands;
1. The construction of a 300 kilowatt hydro project in Brenwei, Malekula to service, 600 households. This will also be linked to the Malekula electricity concession, and
2. The Construction of additional intake to the Sarakata hydro in Santo to generate an additional 600 kilowatt.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me reiterate that energy is one of the key priority sectors of the Government, because of its role as a catalyst for growth and development. Consequently, a number of policy initiatives have been implemented in the recent past, which included the approval of the National Energy Road Map in 2013.
The NERM has then triggered the need to upgrade the Energy Unit from a five permanent positions structure in 2011 into a fully-fledged Government Department with 15 permanent positions in 2015. The Department’s budget has subsequently increased from VT12 million in 2013 to VT23 million in 2015 showing the Government commitment to the development of the energy sector.
I am pleased to announce that since launching of the NERM, the Government through the Department of Energy has implemented other electricity access projects in the country, such as the Vanuatu Rural Electrification program to subsidized cost of plug and play solar systems throughout the country and the Global Partnership for Output Based Aid (GPOBA) to subsidize electricity connection cost for low income earners with the four concession areas.
With this, I acknowledge the immense financial and technical support from our development partners and donors organizations. I also acknowledge the role of the private sector, including the concessionaires for the development of renewable energy sources in Vanuatu.
The Government recognizes the high cost energy in Vanuatu and therefore will develop appropriate policy framework that would enable energy to become more competitive throughout Vanuatu.
With the rapid developments and recent changes in the energy sector, the Government has decided last year to review this Road Map. The updated document will include national strategies and policies on energy efficiency and green growth.
Also, as part of the current NERM update, I am pleased to announce that the Council of Ministers has approved in April, 2016 a National Green Energy Fund which will assist the Department of Energy to support green energy access projects in rural areas of Vanuatu.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the Government’s appreciation to the Government of United Arab Emirate for funding this project and I therefore encourage and look forward to your further financial support to assist us in meeting our renewable energy targets.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me close by thanking all of you who are present today for this official launching of this project.