Wind Power in Pacific Islands-European bank to fund Vanuatu wind farm

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing EUR 4.3 million (650 million Vatu) to support the construction of a 2.75MW wind farm on the island of Efate, Vanuatu. The wind farm is being built by Unelco Vanuatu Ltd, part of GDF-Suez Group. The finance contract was signed in Port Vila by representatives of the European Investment Bank and the President of Unelco.

The project is the first wind farm to be implemented in Vanuatu and it is hoped that this will form a reference project for other Pacific islands.

The wind farm comprises 10 identical new 55-metres high wind turbines designed to be winched to the ground when required for maintenance or to avoid wind damage in the event of a tropical cyclone. It marks an important first-step in diversifying sources of electricity supply and reducing dependence on expensive fossil-fuel imports. It will reinforce UNELCO’s strategy to develop renewable energy production based on wind turbines, bio-fuel and solar energy.

The project forms part of European Union and EIB policy to encourage wind power and renewable energy objectives and address the impacts of climate change resulting from fossil fuel use. In Vanuatu, 5 other EU-funded projects using bio-fuel and wind energy are already being implemented in Port Orly, Malekuka, Ambae, Futuna and Sola.

Particular attention has been taken to ensure no environmentally protected zones or areas of cultural significance are affected by the project, and to minimize any risk of bird strikes by the wind turbines. The wind farm will also provide local employment and help to improve the environmental image of the country.

This project is one of a number of initiatives financed by the EIB in the South Pacific region currently being approved during a regional tour by Bank representatives.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) was set up in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome as the long-term lending Bank of the European Union. The European Investment Bank has significantly increased its contribution to the long-term development of the Pacific countries economies over the last five years.

In line with priorities set by the Cotonou mandate and in close cooperation with the European Commission, financing of private sector and environmental projects will remain centre stage in future EIB activities. EIB lending in the Pacific build on the regions strengths supporting and promoting economic growth and employment.

Since the start of operations in the Pacific the EIB has funded loans and equity worth over EUR 380m to support economic activity in a region hampered by the high cost of developing infrastructure across widely dispersed and remote small island countries.