The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have strengthened their partnership with a renewed agreement. Both parties agree to promote the acceleration of renewable energy deployment in the Pacific Island countries and territories through the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative (LHI), which is coordinated by IRENA.
The Memorandum of Understanding extends the existing partnership between IRENA and SPC that has seen the two parties work closely since 2019. The two organisations have been delivering tailored regional and national support to the Pacific SIDS, which include nationally determined contributions (NDCs) enhancement and implementation; capacity building; technical assistance and project facilitation. The renewed agreement also seeks to ensure closer collaboration on the ground through the hosting of IRENA’s Pacific Focal Point at the SPC office in Suva, Fiji.
The collaboration in capacity building includes for example a regional training on energy management and energy audits in February 2023. Co-organised by SPC, the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE), and the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Meteorological Services of Fiji, the training aimed at enhancing the capacity if entry-level officers in the energy divisions, power utilities, and other relevant sectors in the region.
Other regional capacity building activities that have jointly been delivered by IRENA and SPC included greenhouse gas emissions estimation and renewable energy target setting, renewable energy statistics and the development of bankable power purchase agreements. Moving forward with the renewed partnership, IRENA and SPC plan to bring together project developers, financing institutions and relevant stakeholders to enhance bankability and increase the much-needed access to appropriate and tailor-made financing to boost renewables deployment in the region.
Between 2014 and 2022, the Pacific has seen a 30% increase in installed renewable capacity, from 650 megawatt (MW) to 830 MW. The growth includes an overwhelming increase of 700% in installed solar capacity, leading to increased energy access that bring socio-economic benefits to the communities.
One example of a project in the Pacific with multiple socio-economic benefits of renewables is the Sa’asa’ai Biogas project. Delivered under the Improving the Performance and Reliability of Renewable Energy Power System in Samoa (IMPRESS) project and featured as part of the SIDS LHI knowledge sharing and human impacts of renewables video series, the biogas system in Sa’asa’ai Village has since converted food and animal waste into sustainable biogas, further reducing diesel consumption and increasing clean and affordable energy access. As a result, the project has generated business opportunities and empowered women in rural communities through the provision of affordable gas for cooking and lighting.
Such project needs to be replicated in other countries in the region. IRENA has identified that only stronger international cooperation can scale up renewable energy in SIDS. In the recent 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministerial Meeting, the Pacific SIDS called on IRENA and partners to support the region in developing the Pacific Regional Hydrogen Roadmap.
In recognition of the SIDS LHI’s valuable contributions to sustainable development and climate action in SIDS, IRENA received the inaugural “United Nations (UN) SIDS Partnerships Award” in the environmental category. This recognition reinforces IRENA’s dedication to continue supporting the region in its pursuit of sustainable development, climate-safe and resilient future.