Vanuatu’s micro-hydro power plant goes live


A micro-hydro power plant has begun generating power after it was built and inaugurated by locals in remote Talise village, Maevo, in Vanuatu’s Ambae province, last week. <!--more--><a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-6276 alignleft" style="margin: 2px; border: 0px currentColor;" alt="Vanuatu-Power" src="" width="138" height="104" /></a>The unique feature of the project is that locals built it ground up with assistance from Australian firm Pelena Energy.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister James Bule commended the appropriateness of this technology in utilising Vanuatu’s natural clean energy sources. He acknowledged that this project complemented the range of renewable energy technologies the Government was pursuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.

The first stage of the project is only the generation phase. The connection of the electricity to the villages has yet to be undertaken. When done, it will result in almost 340 houses, schools, clinics, businesses, and churches being connected to the system.

Pelena Energy Managing Director Peter Lynch said, “Micro-hydro has the grunt to allow for real development through electricity because it operates twenty-four hours per day without the need for batteries. There are real kilowatts generated which allows people and entrepreneurs to go to local stores and buy common appliances and tools to improve their own lives.

“Solar and wind cannot provide this because it is intermittent and requires batteries for storage.  Batteries are too expensive resulting in many failed solar and wind systems throughout the Pacific and elsewhere unless heavily subsidised from outside the villages.”

At the launch, locally trained technicians demonstrated a system shutdown and restart. Two out of the three technicians have no formal education, but have been trained to run and maintain the generator.

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Climate Change and Natural Disaster is actively negotiating extra funds with the Government and various donor agencies including private investors for funding electrical reticulation to distribute generated power to users. The outlay is estimated to amount to about 100 million vatu.