The tourism industry in Vava’u, the demand for 24 hours electricity supply for its outer islands and a transition to non-fossil fuel transportation are investment opportunities that would assist to achieve Tonga’s renewable energy targets. These are the sentiments delivered by Dr Tevita Tukunga, the Director of Energy with MEIDECC, when he opened an Energy investment Meeting at Neiafu, Vava’u on 13th October 2020.
Dr Tukunga, highlighted that Tonga has a highly ambitious energy target of reaching 50% by 2020. “We have reached 2020 but we have not reached the 50% Renewable Energy target yet. As of 2019, we are at around 10%. This means that about 90% of the energy is still generated from dirty fossil fuels, emitting the unwanted poisonous gases that are causing climate change’’. The Private Sector therefore has a crucial role to play in bridging the renewable energy gap. Government will be very supportive to the private sector who wants to invest in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the Pacific Community’s Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) to highlight its Business Plan 2021- 2025 and how it could support investments in Vava’u and eventually to Tonga’s energy target. These include targeted mentoring and technical support for the start-up of small businesses relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Furthermore, the PCREEE will support tourism operators and individuals who may want to explore investments in electric vehicles and renewable energy powered boats. Globally and throughout the region, the demand for 24 hours electricity supply is being met with new investments on renewable energy mini-grids and the PCREEE would be assisting those who would like to invest on transforming the existing standalone solar systems in the outer islands of Vava’u into renewable energy mini-grids that would provide reliable power for various households and business activities. Vava’u needs investments on Energy Efficiency if it has to minimize losses and wastages and the PCREEE would be providing assistance in this area.
Mr Jesse Benjamin of the PCREEE presented the meeting with details on PCREEE’s mentoring and coaching assistance as well as its facilitative services in establishing platforms and forums for connecting project developers and investors with financiers, organising capacity building initiatives and supporting government and energy regulators to create conducive environment for private sector investments.
The meeting appreciated that increased investments must be met with a better trained local work force. The meeting was updated on a joint initiative by the MEIDECC, the Tonga National Qualification and Accreditation Board (TNQAB), the EU PacTVET and the PCREEE to develop a national qualification on sustainable energy Levels 1 - 4. Once completed, the National Qualification will be the first of its kind in Tonga and also the region as no other PIC has nationalised the regional qualification on sustainable energy. Participants were informed that Certificate 1 & 2 under the SE Qualification is expected to be completed and registered hopefully by the end of 2020 and Certificate 3 & 4 maybe carried forward next year for registration and accreditation.
The meeting was jointly organised by the Department of Energy of MEIDECC and the SPC PCREEE. The MEIDECC Office in Vava’u and TNQAB are gratefully acknowledged for their generous support.
The PCREEE is hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC) at Nuku’alofa, Tonga and is a regional entity working specifically to accelerate the Pacific Islands’ transition to renewable energy and energy efficient economies. The centre is part of wider SDG-7 multi-stakeholder partnership which aims at the establishment of a network of regional sustainable energy centres for small island developing states (SIDS) in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
For further information, contact the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) on (+676) 25209 or the Tonga Department of Energy (MEIDECC) on (+676) 20100.
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