The reports released yesterday (2 July) by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found the vast renewable energy sources on Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu could easily meet the domestic energy needs of the nations, cutting electricity costs and boosting energy security.

IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin said: “The development of local renewable energy resources in these island nations would decrease their dependency on fuel imports and reduce the risks associated with oil price volatility.

“The falling cost of renewable energy offers them an opportunity to rethink their energy strategies, develop policies and build institutions that would create jobs, bring power to those currently without and deliver more reliable electricity services, all while combating climate change.”

All three island nations currently depend heavily on importing fossil fuels, which IRENA argues has hampered economic independence and development on the islands. The islands have already begun implementing policies to move the nations towards greater energy security.

Energy independence

Vanuatu’s National Energy Roadmap aims to increase the nation’s share of renewable to 63% by 2030 and the Marshall Islands have developed thousands of solar installations for households on the outer islands.  

Fiji has estimated it could feasibly achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 with further action. The islands of around 900,000 people currently plan to implement an 80% renewable energy share in its electricity generation by 2020. IRENA’s renewable readiness assessment for Fiji found the nation had significant hydropower, solar, geothermal and wind resources to utilise.

Mr Amin added: “Renewable energy is no longer just the best choice socially and environmentally, it is also the best choice economically for many countries in many parts of the world.

“It has never been cheaper for small island states to reduce electricity costs, increase energy independence and improve energy access through the deployment of renewable energy.”

Island nations are some of those thought to be most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rises. The Maldives repeatedly made headlines in 2009 after former President Mohammed Nasheed held an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the risk sea level rises posed to the archipelago. 

Matt Field

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