19 Feb 2019

Pacific turning to renewable energy - ADB

7:53 am on 19 February 2019

The Asian Development Bank is reporting large requests for renewable energy funding as Pacific countries try to push down electricity costs and improve access for remote communities

Tonga solar panels at Tofoa

Tonga solar panels at Tofoa Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

A heavy reliance on diesel for electricity generation, geography and economies of scale make electricity costs in the Pacific some of the highest in the world.

But the bank's principal energy specialist for the Pacific, Anthony Maxwell, said countries who were quick to invest in renewable energy are already reaping the benefits.

"So we see a lot of the benefits flow through to the economy from renewable energy and lower tariffs but also the ability of the utility to roll the grid out," Mr Maxwell said.

"There's a number of countries with relatively low access. So if the grids can roll out at a cheaper rate then that brings in all sorts of social benefits to households but also to schools and clinics when they are connected up to electricity."