Preparing the Blue Pacific to be Investor Ready for Renewable Energy Projects

Over the last 10 years renewable energy options have significantly reduced in price, and technology has advanced to create a more optimal performance. These developments have made it more viable for renewable energy to compete with diesel generation as a preferred energy source for the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand (PTI NZ) Investment Facilitation Manager, Rohan Parekh, says PTI NZ is extremely alert to the need to develop renewable energy projects in the Blue Pacific.

“We look to support Pacific Island Countries (PICs) by providing the tools to find and realise opportunities on how to source investment for renewable energy projects. To this end, throughout the past 12 months PTI NZ has enjoyed forming a strong working relationship with world-leading renewable energy and impact fund manager Camco Clean Energy (Camco).”

In July, the two organisations partnered to deliver a webinar focusing on ‘Finding and realising renewable energy options in the Pacific Islands’.

With key stakeholders in attendance, the webinar discussed well-priced and well-performing renewable energy options that countries could look to consider, the advantages and disadvantages of direct-use technologies versus grid connectivity, as well as discussing independent power producers (IPPs) versus public renewable energy development. The webinar went onto cover funding, private capital, and the benefits it can bring versus only targeting donor funding.

Following this initial webinar, Camco worked with PTI NZ, governments, and regional organisations to identify the renewable energy needs and opportunities within the Blue Pacific. From their findings they developed the TIDES blending finance platform (Transforming Island Development through Electrification and Sustainability).

Investment Facilitation Manager, Rohan Parekh, says in-depth consultation and research was undertaken by Camco to create TIDES, and that it was uncommon for investment fund managers to have funds specifically ringfenced for the Pacific.

“This shows the desire and drive that Camco has to develop renewable energy projects in the Blue Pacific.”

In order to introduce people to TIDES, PTI NZ and Camco hosted a second webinar, this time focusing on building capacity for renewable energy developers to enter the Blue Pacific. The webinar, held on 30 November, not only introduced the new finance platform, but also discussed the fundamentals of bankability for renewable energy projects and delivered an overview of strategies for developers to make their projects more bankable. It also described key components of TIDES, including capacity building and technical assistance, which are aimed at supporting developers.

The webinar was opened by PTI NZ Trade Commissioner, Glynis Miller, who remarked on the journey that PTI NZ and Camco have taken to come to the creation of the TIDES program. She then welcomed Martin Garrood, the Lead Adviser for Energy with the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Mr Garrood gave an overview of the Pacific Islands and the renewable energy and climate-related initiatives currently being undertaken by MFAT.

Camco’s Regional Manager- Pacific, Paul Makumbe, followed up with an introduction of Camco and the TIDES investment process, delving into how Camco and other infrastructure investors evaluate investments. He also discussed the key components of TIDES and the importance of capacity building and technical assistance for supporting developers.

Mr David Mulholland, Chief Operating Officer of Sunergise International Limited, the first pan-Pacific solar power utility created by a group of entrepreneurs and veteran investors, spoke of understanding the key aspects of bankability for renewable energy projects, including financing challenges in the Pacific, understanding what makes a project bankable, the importance of business plans and financial models, and regulations contracts and the due diligence process. Sunergise is rapidly accelerating the adoption and installation of solar PV panels in the Pacific region and was part of the world’s largest installation for a marina at Port Denarau in Fiji. It is the leading solar power services company in the Pacific Island region, with a growing portfolio of solar projects in Niue, Nauru, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.

Mr Makumbe spoke in place of the final speaker, Ms Marion Duquesnoy, the head of the team at Akuo Energy in the Pacific region. Akuo Energy is committed to developing and operating projects that go beyond simply producing renewable power and creates additional social benefits for the inhabitants of the areas in which they are located.

Ms Duquesnoy leads the business through development, construction and operations of renewable energy projects. She gave an overview of strategies that developers could use to make their projects bankable. This included a rundown on how to choose the right sites for projects, how to negotiate a power purchase agreement (PPA) for optimal outcome, and the fundamentals of building a bankable financial model.

The webinar was then closed by Trade Commissioner Miller, who commented that the Blue Pacific must ensure they are ready to attract investors, saying, “A critical factor to attracting investors into the Pacific is to have a credible collection of project pipelines.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the Blue Pacific. There is funding ringfenced for projects in Forum Island Countries. In addition, for PICs to meet their climate targets, around US$5.2 billion of investment is needed by 2030. The state sector does not have the financial capacity to achieve this alone. Therefore, it is important that new financing solutions are secured to attract private capital for renewable energy projects and to complement grant funding in the region.”

Watch the webinar – ‘Building capacity for renewable energy developers to enter the Blue Pacific’ here.

Access the TIDES fact sheet.

If you are interested in PTI NZ’s renewable energy webinars or want to watch them visit https://www.pacifictradeinvest.co.nz/investment-webinars/.

If you have an investment enquiry, contact Investment Facilitation Manager, Rohan Parekh: rohan.parekh@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz.

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