Kiribati residents set to benefit from reliable solar energy

Auckland, 25 March 2013 – Today the World Bank signed a formal agreement with the Government of Kiribati to deliver reliable solar energy to the people of the Pacific island nation. The project will be jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Global Environment Facility.

The signing ceremony took place at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland and was attended by President of Kiribati Anote Tong and World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands Franz Drees-Gross.

Through AusAID Australia will provide A$3.2 million for the project through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), in collaboration with US$1 million from the Global Environment Fund.

“Kiribati faces big challenges – it is remote, it is at risk from the effects of climate change, and it is vulnerable to economic shocks,” said President Anote Tong of Kiribati.

“Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure, more sustainable power source for the country’s people.”

The project will install solar panels in the capital of South Tarawa. Training will also be provided to the Kiribati Public Utilities Board to operate and maintain solar power stations.

The project is expected to reduce diesel fuel use in Kiribati by up to 230,000 litres a year, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a positive investment that will build the country’s financial and environmental resilience.

Almost half of the country’s 110,000 people live on Tarawa atoll and are dependent on expensive diesel generators to produce electricity.

The solar panels will be installed at four sites across South Tarawa to feed into the existing grid.

“The residents on Tarawa are completely reliant on imported oil for their energy needs, which is expensive, inefficient and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mr Drees-Gross.

“This project is a win-win for Kiribati and sets an important precedent for renewable energy development in the country.”

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