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Sunlabob provides private sector view at Pacific Regional Ministers’ Meeting

2014-04-Kiribati

CEO highlights key opportunities and challenges for commercially-viable renewable energy growth in the Pacific islands

This week Andy Schroeter, CEO of Sunlabob, presented at the Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers' Meeting, held in Nadi, Fiji to provide a private sector perspective on renewable energy development in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs).

Highlighting Sunlabob’s experience with implementing on- and off-grid solar power in Pacific island countries such as Micronesia, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, Schroeter identified barriers and provided recommendations for catalyzing private investments in renewable energy in the region.

“Renewable energy in the Pacific region can be an attractive investment target for the private sector, due to the abundance of renewable energy resources, the increasing prices of fossil fuels, and frankly, a lack of better options for the long-term,” stated Schroeter.

Schroeter pointed out that renewable energy can often be cost-competitive with fossil fuel-based energy generation, when outer islands often pay in excess of USD $1.00/kWh.

Despite the market’s attractiveness, Schroeter also highlighted several barriers hindering widespread entry by private sector energy players, ranging from lack of financing and hard-to-navigate regulations to micro-level challenges such as limited local skills and capacity.

Schroeter outlined several recommendations to encourage private sector involvement, including:

  • the formation of public-private partnerships that tap into the technical, on-the-ground experience of the private sector, while leveraging the financial facility of government and donors;
  • scaling up a regional capacity building program to improve the know-how of technicians, regulators and end-users;
  • improving policy and regulatory frameworks to encourage independent power producer (IPP) participation through favorable policies such as net-metering and/or feed-in-tariffs; and
  • taking a community-focused approach to implementation, operation and maintenance – particularly in remote, isolated areas – to help ensure community commitment and long-term sustainability.

“With proper foresight and thoughtful planning, the Pacific island governments have a significant opportunity to leverage private sector expertise and investment to push forward renewable energy progress in the region,” concluded Schroeter.