The World Bank has signed an agreement with the government of Kiribati to deliver solar energy to the residents of the Pacific island nation.
The Australian government and the Global Environment Facility will jointly finance this project.
In total the project will receive A$4.2 million from both sides. Development body AusAID Australia will offer A$3.2 million for the project connected to the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) while the remaining US$1 million will come from the Global Environment Fund.
In the signing ceremony held at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong said: “Kiribati faces big challenges – it is remote, it is at risk from the effects of climate change, and it is vulnerable to economic shocks. Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure, more sustainable power source for the country’s people.”
The solar plants will be constructed in the capital of South Tarawa at four sites across South Tarawa to feed into the existing grid.
The Kiribati Public Utilities Board will provide training to the residents’ on how to operate and maintain the solar power stations.
It is estimated the project will reduce the use of diesel fuel by up to 230,000 litres annually eliminating thus the greenhouse gas emissions in Kiribati. Almost half of the country’s 110,000 people on Tarawa atoll depend on expensive use of diesel generators to produce electricity.
Drees-Gross, World Bank’s Director for the Pacific Islands said: “The residents on Tarawa are completely reliant on imported oil for their energy needs, which is expensive, inefficient and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This project is a win-win for Kiribati and sets an important precedent for renewable energy development in the country.”