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Solar Power, Coconut Biofuel to Meet 150% of Pacific Nation’s Electricity Demand

Solar power plants and coconut biofuel-powered generators will be switched on in Tokelau next week as the three-atoll administered region of New Zealand gears up to become the ‘the world’s first truly renewable nation.’ The renewable energy system comprising of solar panels, storage batteries and generators running on biofuel derived from coconut will generate enough electricity to meet 150% of the islands’ power demand.

Fakaofo Atoll, part of Tokelau

These systems are part of the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project that has been funded by the New Zealand government and represents one of the largest off-grid renewable energy projects in the world. With this project, the islands will make the transition from being completely dependent on imported fuels to being completely energy independent.

Tokelau spends about $820,000 every year to import fuels. The government of Tokelau now plans to spend these savings on other essential services like health and education. The savings will also be used to repay the grants and financial assistance the government received for this project.

This project serves very well for other Pacific islands that plan to reduce their dependence on imported fossil fuels and do their part in the reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Fiji, Cook Islands, Niue, and Tuvalu plan to achieve 100% electricity generation from renewable energy between 2013 and 2020.

These island nations are getting significant monetary and technical assistance from developed countries and are also learning from the experiences of each other. The Small Developing Island Renewable Energy Knowledge and Technology Transfer Network (DIREKT) is a cooperation scheme involving universities from Germany, Fiji, Mauritius, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago, with the aim of strengthening the science and technology capacity in the field of renewable energy of a sample of ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) small island developing states, by means of technology transfer, information exchange, and networking.

The Japanese government launched the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund in 2009. This fund has provided $66 million to several island nations in the Pacific region for renewable energy projects. The Fund has provided assistance worth millions of dollars to Kiribati, Micronesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu for solar power projects and solar desalination projects. More (http://s.tt/1rgzO)

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Wind, Solar, Coconuts: SIDS and Climate Change

Renewable energy is having a hard enough time becoming mainstream on the mainland, but when small island developing states, or SIDS, decide to take energy matters into their own hands – by even adding coconuts to their portfolio – one has to wonder: what’s the hang up for larger countries?

Besides some of the obvious factors, the primary factor being islands have relatively small populations and therefore demand less energy, islands states, particularly tropical islands, come ripe with plenty of sunshine, ocean wind and, of course, coconuts. What do coconuts and coconut palms have to do with renewable energy? Well, coconut palms not only supply coconuts, which are a renewable food source, but are a “naturally recyclable source of a wide range of products, including transportation fuel, oil … and fiber.”

Kokonut Pacific, an Australian company, has tapped into this iconic island market and has been relatively successful at getting island nation states to make use of coconuts and coconut palms in a sustainable, low-impact way. SIDS are beginning to see a self-sufficient economy developing, one that combines a renewable energy portfolio with economic and environmental sustainability.

Bold action and creativity, while commendable, nevertheless fails to account for the fact that climate change does not operate in isolation, but impacts the globe aggregately. The carbon released in the Canadian tar sands, for example, will inevitably influence sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean and there’s not much a small island can do to abate that.

Dire predictions in mind, island nation states are serious when it comes to climate change and they should be; islands like the Maldives are predicted to experience devastating effects of global warming, including the shocking realization that their islands could soon disappear entirely under rising sea levels. The lowest country on Earth, the Maldives, are comprised of 1,200 islands, the highest reaching merely 5 feet above sea level. With a population of 320,000, President Mohammed Nasheed has been very vocal in expressing his concern over climate model predictions on his nation. More


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