May 7, 2018
When most people think of the Pacific Islands — consisting of Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia — they imagine beautiful islands dotting deep blue ocean.
However, these islands do face a few common issues: "Small land mass, scattered land and inadequate social services such as electricity and running water." "Located far from international markets, making it hard to develop industry." "Vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change."
A solar power system adopted in Tonga
The Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) will be held May 18-19 in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. PALM is a leadership summit that aims to build cooperative relationships and facilitate discussion among Japan, also an island nation, and the Pacific Island countries about various issues they face. The meeting is held once every three years. The upcoming PALM will be the eighth, and participants will discuss the following themes: "maritime assistance," "independent and sustainable development," and "invigoration of people-to-people exchanges."
JICA has provided assistance to the Pacific Islands in various areas for many years with the aims of working toward solutions to their problems and strengthening cooperation. Ahead of PALM 8, we would like to introduce in two installments JICA's promotion of renewable energy and support for human resource training in the broader area of islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The 14 Pacific Island countries JICA provides assistance to
JICA Senior Advisor Tadayuki Ogawa (front row, center) participates in a discussion with Tuvaluan counterparts involved in the project.
"Because the Pacific Island countries are all small island nations with small power supply networks, it is difficult to provide a stable supply of electricity by simply introducing renewable energy, whose supply can become unstable depending on climate conditions," said JICA Senior Advisor Tadayuki Ogawa, who serves as chief advisor to the Project for Introduction of Hybrid Power Generation System in the Pacific Island Countries. The project has been carried out in five countries since 2017: Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
Many countries in the Pacific Ocean hold up the ideal of introducing renewable energy as a way to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. To make up for the instability of renewable energy, for which the amount of power generated is influenced by the weather, JICA is providing technical cooperation to configure and stably operate hybrid systems that effectively combine renewable energy with diesel generators and storage batteries, if necessary.
JICA Senior Advisor Tadayuki Ogawa, center, visits wind power facilities in Fiji.
This project is being carried out based on the "hybrid island concept," which Japan announced for new assistance in the energy field at PALM 7 in 2015.
For a long time, JICA has worked to popularize renewable energy in each of the Pacific Islands countries, but this is its first such wide-area project. Mr. Ogawa proceeded to his new position in Fiji, the base for the project from the beginning. From there he is going around to southern islands giving technical advice on such matters as disseminating hybrid electrical generation. For example, at the request of Fiji Electricity Authority(now Energy Fiji Limited)he has held in Fiji two workshops on introducing solar power generation. More than 30 engineers and technicians participated. JICA continues to provide assistance at individual sites on forming plans for renewable energy integration.
Training participants and JICA Senior Advisor Tadayuki Ogawa, third from left, visited Miyako Island Mega-Solar Demonstration Research Facility.
Under the hybrid island concept, island-type energy technology and experience fostered to promote renewable energy in Japan's outlying islands such as Okinawa is being put to use. In February, 11 electric power engineers and technicians from the five target countries of the project participated in training in Japan. They visited Miyako Island in Okinawa prefecture and saw initiatives to expand the integration of renewable energy there. Mr. Ogawa accompanied them for the training.
One of the participants, Mr.Krishneel Prasad of Energy Fiji Limited, has wasted no time in putting the training to use. Making reference to the Japanese example, he is looking at methods for acquiring solar irradiation data in multiple locations and forecasting power generation with those data, in order to efficiently enact a plan to integrate solar power generation in his country. Also, Mr. Fatoga Talama of Tuvalu Electricity Corporation held training at his workplace after returning to his country and began working to incorporate the technologies being adopted on Japan's outlying islands.
The results and data accumulated in the future in Pacific Island countries will also be used to improve Japan's island-type energy technologies. "Instead of Japanese experts unilaterally providing assistance, in this project island countries with common problems learn from one another and work to solve those problems," Mr. Ogawa said.
A solar power generation system set up at Palau International Airport
JICA's cooperation in the field of electric power generation in the Pacific Islands goes back to the 1990s when it set up diesel engine generators and power distribution systems. Since 2009, it has been carrying out initiatives to introduce grid-connected solar power generation systems on Palau and elsewhere, spreading solar power generation systems in Pacific Island countries.
Based on these relationships of trust built up through long years of cooperation, and in preparation for an era of renewable energy, JICA will transition from technology transfers from Japan to Pacific Island nations to thinking together, sharing knowledge and creating new value. We will give back the experiences and expertise we gain to developing countries and Japan.