28th August, 2017 The Government of Tonga, in partnership with the Pacific Community’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the Australia and New Zealand Solar and Energy Storage Councils, are spearheading an effort to substantially increase the use of renewable energy in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).
In their desires to lift their countries out of poverty and unlock opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development, PICTs have committed themselves to national, regional and global goals on sustainable energy. Goals that reflects their economic and environmental vulnerabilities and the urgency of the needs to address their energy security challenges.
Solar is a resource that offers excellent opportunities for all the PICTs and is the most commonly used renewable energy resource in the region. The direct integration of solar-generated electricity into the power grids of PICTs have reached a point where storage technologies must be employed if they are to further increase the share of renewable energy without compromising the durability of their existing power infrastructure and quality of the service delivery.
Mr John Grimes, the Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council and Australian Energy Storage Council and Mr Wayne Smith, the Councils’ Government Relations Manager were in Tonga on the 22nd and 23rd of August to hold discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, Tonga Power Ltd, the Electricity Commission, the Energy Department of MEIDECC and the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE).
Hon. Sovaleni stated “I am pleased that the Councils are able to quickly respond to my request to establish this collaboration. Our region cannot avoid the use of energy storage technologies if we are to achieve our respective national renewable energy targets. We’ve got to be proactive and engage on genuine and durable partnerships that would support our region’s sustainable development aspirations.”
“It is an honour for the Councils to be able to come to Tonga, to talk to officials and to visit the PCREEE. There is certainly the political will and professional commitments by all parties to get this collaboration off the ground. We are glad to have the PCREEE as the medium for delivery and reaching out to the PICTs,” said Mr John Grimes.
The collaboration will focus on the Councils assisting with the capacity development of the PICTs through the vast experiences and resources of its members. This will be in the form of specialized short-term technical training courses, accredited and non-accredited training programmes, staff exchange and exposure visits as well as technical and policy advice.
A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted and discussed and will be signed in the next couple of weeks and plans are already under-way for two trainings to be conducted in September and October respectively.