Islands’ reliance on fossil fuels tipped to grow

29/10/2013

An Asian Development Bank report published last month titled <i>Energy Outlook for Asia and the Pacific</i> that surveys the oil demand situation around the world says that despite the strides being taken in harnessing alternative cleaner fuels in the Pacific Islands region, its primary energy demand will more than double by 2035.<!--more-->

The demand is expected to rise from 3.6 million tons of oil equivalent in 2010 to 8.8 tons of oil equivalent in 2035. The annual rate of growth works out to 3.7 per cent. Papua New Guinea, being the most populous and largest in size in terms of industrial development and population, will consume 75.8 per cent of total primary energy demand in the Pacific in 2035. In 2010 its share of demand was 62 per cent.

However, the report takes into account the many renewable energy projects being undertaken in the region and concedes that these projected increases could be revised downwards if these initiatives prove successful. If the right investments are made in new and renewable energy generation, the oil demand is likely to be lower at 8.3 tons of oil equivalent instead of the projected 8.8, according to the report’s statisticians.

The report says some island nations are better positioned to increase their reliance on renewable sources than others. Fiji the Solomon Islands and PNG are seen as being able to achieve this because of their land size and suitability of terrain, particularly for hydro projects. In the case of Fiji, 55 per cent of its power comes from hydro renewables; the rest from imported fossil fuels.

Polynesian nations are likely to have to depend on alternative power generation technologies like solar, wind, tidal and the far more expansive geothermal. They will also have to fine-tune their energy usage to deliver better efficiencies of scale. Both Tonga and the Cook Islands have energy road map targets to progressively help them reduce their dependence on fossil fuel sources.

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