Marshall Islands plans carbon neutral electricity production

12:57 pm on 12 December 2018

The Marshall Islands is leading by example in the battle against climate change at the UN climate summit in Poland.

High tides in Marshall Islands in March 2016 hit a seawall

High tides in Marshall Islands in March 2016 hit a seawall Photo: RNZI/Giff Johnson

The Pacific country today launched plans to decarbonise its electricity sector by 2050.

Minister for Environment David Paul unveiled the Republic of the Marshall Islands "Electricity Roadmap" at a COP24 side event in Katowice.

"The Electricity Roadmap is easy to understand and shows how other countries large and small might also make the decarbonization journey," he said.

Carbon neutral electricity production underpins the country's September announcement to reach zero net emissions by 2050.

The country is aiming to better the deadline it set itself and intends to make dramatic reductions in admissions by 2025.

The roadmap requires $US170-million to take the sector from its current two percent renewable production to beyond 50 percent over the next seven years.

"To achieve these targets, it falls to the electricity sector to do most of the heavy lifting, and quickly," Mr Paul said.

"It means reducing energy losses in the diesel generation and distribution network, improving energy efficiency, and building large-scale wind and solar farms on the main islands of Majuro and Ebeye," he said.

"As for other small island countries, there are significant costs and challenges in decarbonizing. While the Marshall Islands is blessed with steady trade winds and abundant sunshine, these are intermittent and can't be switched on when they are needed. This leads to the need for increased battery storage.

"Our islands are remote, which means there is a lack of access to equipment, technicians and training facilities. In addition, at high levels of renewables, the grid stability services traditionally provided by diesel generators need to be replaced with other technologies," he said.

The roadmap also describes strategies to build a renewable energy workforce, encouraging youth to train in the sector.

According to the country's Chief Secretary, Ben Graham, the challenge offers, “A cleaner, brighter future for our people."

"To achieve our energy goals, we need the women and men of the Marshall Islands to become engineers, technicians and managers.

"With these skills we will also be in a better position to navigate the other challenges climate change brings,” he said.

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