A joint New Zealand-European Union (EU) mission will tour four Pacific island countries this week to assess progress on renewable energy projects, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced Tuesday.
The tour follows up on the Pacific Energy Summit in New Zealand in March last year and the launch of the European Union-New Zealand Energy Access Partnership to fund renewable energy projects in the region.
The summit’s aim was to move Pacific nations closer to achieving 50 percent of their electricity from renewable means and 635 million NZ dollars (545.02 million U.S. dollars) was secured for Pacific energy projects.
“This mission is an opportunity to see the progress being made on renewable energy initiatives in Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Cook Islands, and to meet with the Pacific governments and organizations to discuss opportunities for further cooperation,” McCully said in a statement.
“Representatives from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency are also joining the mission to gain further insight into the potential for sustainable energy across the Pacific,” he said.
“Renewable energy is a strong focus of our support to developing countries and we are committed to working with partners like the European Union to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy projects.”
European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who will accompany McCully on the mission, said the EU projects included solar panels installed to renewable provide electricity in Apia, extending the availability of reliable electricity with solar panels for Tuvalu’ s outer islands, and agreeing with the Asian Development Bank to construct six photovoltaic power plants in the Cook Islands.
In Kiribati, Piebalgs would also launch a barge that would protect Tarawa’s beaches from silt build-up and open a laboratory dedicated to monitoring and responding to environmental diseases.
Both projects were necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change in Kiribati, Piebalgs said in a statement.