Suva, Fiji – Fiji continues to be reliant on imported fossil fuel for the generation of power to homes and businesses as well as for transportation. For the last three years, the import of petroleum products has amounted to more than FJ$1 billion of which 70 percent was spent on transportation.

In this context, the Fiji Department of Energy and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a two-day workshop on 10-11 June, for the designing of a renewable energy (RE) project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The project is geared towards removing barriers to the widespread and cost-effective use of grid-based renewable energy supply via commercially viable renewable energy technologies. It is hoped that this project will support finding ways and means of reducing both the cost of electricity supply and Fiji’s vulnerability to oil price shocks through the use of renewable energy resources. Renewable energies are among the most promising substitutes for fossil fuels, which are responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Director for the Department of Energy, Mr Ifereimi Dau, “In 2008, the total value of fuel imports was 37 percent of the value of total imports. This is a considerable burden for a small economy like Fiji and the need to pay for fuel imports reduces available budgets for critical social concerns such as health and education.

“This is also one of the main reasons for this workshop which will pave the way for the design and implementation of this project that will look into the use of local renewable energy resources,” he said.

The workshop gathered key stakeholders from government, private and academic sectors, public enterprise and regional and international development partners to map the way forward of how the project is going to be implemented in Fiji for the next three years. Participants included representatives from the Department of Energy, Department of Environment, Department of Forestry, Fiji Electricity Authority, Ministry of Public Enterprise and Trade & Commerce, Niu Industries, Elpicon Power Systems, Powerlite Generators, Iviti Renewable, Clay Engineering, Fiji National University, University of the South Pacific, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, IUCN and UNDP.

The workshop agreed to outputs and activities that would contribute to four main outcomes on the facilitation of investments on energy projects particularly on RE-based power generation; addressing technical and information barriers pertaining to availability and technical feasibility of harnessing RE resources; supporting markets for specific renewable energy technologies and integrating renewable energy developments into national energy plan.

The workshop was held at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva.

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