Kiribati has now completed the installation of a 400kWp solar photovoltaic or PV system to the South Tarawa electricity grid in Bikenibeu.
Supported under the Pacific Environment Community or PEC Fund, the solar PV installation is the first ever grid connected system for Kiribati that will enable the Public Utilities Board to use solar energy to produce electricity for its clients.
“I am particularly happy to learn that Public Utility Board staff have been trained to operate and also maintain the solar grid system during the course of project implementation and that is a crucial component of the project for the capacity building and transfer of skills and knowledge,” said Waysang Moti Kum Kee, Kiribati minister for public works and utilities.
The power generated from the solar PV system will contribute to the supply of nearly 3.7 per cent of the total electricity produced by the Public Utilities Board.
It is anticipated that solar PV system will result in fuel cost savings to the Public Utilities Board amounting to about Australian $280,859 and will contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions amounting to about 362tons of CO2 emissions per year.
“As Kiribati is one of the nations at the forefront of climate change, this project is also aligned with its ongoing efforts on raising the importance of the practical use of renewable energy and the urgent need to protect the environment universally,” said Takuji Hanatani, the ambassador of Japan to Fiji and Kiribati.
Nearly 50,182 residents on South Tarawa will benefit from the project along with the Public Utilities Board and the government of Kiribati.
“With the installation now completed, Kiribati joins eight other Forum Island Countries who have also successfully completed the installation of their sea water desalination or solar power generation systems and are now fully benefiting from their projects,” said Jonathan Mitchell, PEC Fund Project Manager at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Kum Kee said “even though the PEC Fund comes to an end, Kiribati wants to see if there is a possibility for an extension or a second phase which will allow Pacific Island Countries to implement more projects.”