Donors step up to fund renewable energy projects in Pacific island nations

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-3-26 15:22:44

Pacific island nations have secured pledges of 635 million NZ dollars ($530.27 million) in funding for renewable energy projects aimed at breaking their dependence on imported fossil fuels.

New Zealand and the European Union announced Tuesday at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland that partners and donors had committed 255 million NZ dollars in grants and 380 million NZ dollars in loans to support more than 40 of 79 projects proposed at the two-day event.

While some projects were sufficiently advanced to enable funding to be confirmed by donors, some would require further work in the weeks ahead, according to the New Zealand government, which co-hosted the summit with the EU.

Investors included New Zealand and the EU, Australia, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the World Bank Group and the United Arab Emirates.

"Clean and efficient modern energy services are the cornerstone of sustainable development, economic activity and poverty reduction. Currently, the Pacific region meets around 80 percent of its electricity generation needs from expensive imported fossil fuels. Yet the region has abundant renewable energy resources, including hydropower, solar, wind, biomass and geothermal," New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said in a statement.

"Investment projects featured by Pacific island countries at the summit would help many of them increase their power generation from renewable resources to close to 50 percent of total supply," McCully said.

EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said investement in global renewable energy reflected the needs of the modern world.

"Working with our partner countries in the Pacific, the EU is committed to catalyze real change quickly, bringing citizens and business together to provide security, sustainability and prosperity," Piebalgs said in the statement.

McCully also announced 65 million NZ dollars of New Zealand funding to assist with renewable energy and energy efficiency plans in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

On Monday, the tiny nation of Kiribati was one of the first to announce progress at the two-day Pacific Energy Summit with an agreement with the World Bank to deliver reliable solar energy to its 110,000 people.

The project -- to be jointly funded by the Australian government and the Global Environment Facility -- was expected to reduce diesel fuel use in Kiribati by up to 230,000 liters a year, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 400 delegates and 100 companies attended the event, along with international donors such as Australia, Japan, China, the United Arab Emirates, the World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank, and the heads of international organizations, including the International Renewable Energy Agency.

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