Islands discuss energy challenges


Leaders and officials from the region met in Nadi last week at the Small Island Developing States Pacific Regional conference on Energy to discuss common challenges of their energy sector.<!--more-->

According to a recent report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Pacific islands region faces severe development challenges that include remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, small populations, small markets and an excessive dependence on international trade.

Energy is an essential ingredient of economic development and growing economies like those in the Pacific Islands region continue to increase their demand for energy with each passing year.

For instance, Fiji’s petroleum imports have grown from about $400million in 2004 to a little over $1.2billion in 2008 amounting to a quarter of the country’s total imports. “The alarming fact is that the cost of our energy consumption has tripled in that period of 4 years,” Minister for Works and Transport Timoci Natuva said at the conference.

The conference heard the need for countries to invest in renewable energy generation projects urgently to reduce growing dependence in fossil fuels that have to be shipped from afar at exorbitant prices that are always volatile. In the past decade, there have been serious attempts to harness renewable energy in the islands with help from global aid agencies.

Among ideas mooted for greater investment in renewable energy projects were public private partnerships (PPP) between governments, government agencies and the private sector.

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