Marshalls looks to solar to 'walk the talk'

2:26 pm on 22 February 2016

A large-scale solar project that would slash the need for diesel imports for power generation in the Marshall Islands is being considered by two big donor agencies.

The country's new president, Dr Hilda Heine, said although the carbon output of the Marshall Islands was virtually non-existent compared with developed nations it wanted to "walk the talk" on climate by reducing its carbon footprint.

The planned solarisation of Jaluit, Wotje and Rongrong islands would dramatically change their energy status from 100 percent reliance on diesel-powered electricity to a 90 percent solar-10 percent diesel mix.

Solar panel

Photo: AFP

This is projected to save the government US$1 million dollars in annual subsidy.

Ebeye Island, which has 20 percent of the Marshalls population of 55,000, is to convert 35 percent of its grid power to solar, with a 12-acre array of solar panels being installed on a neighboring island.

This will slash the Ebeye utility firm's fuel bill by over $1 million a year, a cost that is now subsidised by the government.

The president said building on great work done previously, Marshall Islands wanted to demonstrate its seriousness about combating climate change.

The country wants to raise US$22 million by matching World Bank grant funding with a concessional low-interest loan from IRENA, the United Arab Emirates renewable energy funding agency.

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