Solar Power the choice of Renewable Energy in the Pacific Islands

The Pacific Islands have been under the influence of volatile oil prices for far too long and they have, for the last few years, decided to move towards renewable energy as a way to reduce their dependence on imported oil. So what did they do and why Solar power?

Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Project (PIREP)

One of the projects that took place in the Pacific Islands recently was PIREP. The project intended to facilitate the promotion of widespread implementation and commercialization of renewable energy technologies, mainly solar power and bio-fuels, across the pacific islands. This involved designing and implementing well-thought-out policies and strategies to address the fiscal, financial, regulatory, market, technical and informational barriers to the development and utilization of solar energy and bio-fuels. In short the outcomes of this project were that:

  • Resistant barriers and gaps to renewable energy development were identified and evaluated.
  • They came up with specific capacity building strategies with respect to the individual countries across the Pacific Islands
  • They defined country specific development strategies
  • The funding sources for renewable energy projects were identified and evaluated
  • Barriers and lessons learned in the area of renewable energy development in each respective country and the solutions recommended for the removal of the barriers and feasible demonstration projects were identified

Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project (PIGGAREP)

This is another project that is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and was a follow on project from PIREP. The PIREP was completed in 2006 and the implementation of the PIGGAREP commenced in 2007.

The objective of this project was to promote the use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing the barriers to the widespread and cost-effective use of commercially feasible renewable energy technologies. The main aims of the program can be summarized through the following 6 objectives:

  • Increased number of successful Renewable Energy Applications
  • Increase and grow the market for Renewable Energy Technologies (Solar, Wind and Bio-fuels)
  • Enhance the institutional capacity of the Pacific Island Countries to be able to design, implement and monitor their individual renewable energy projects
  • Increasing access and availability to finance new and existing renewable energy projects
  • More robust legal and regulatory institutional structures in the energy and environmental sectors
  • Increased awareness and knowledge amongst stakeholders of renewable energy and renewable energy technology

In its two years of implementation PIGGAREP has been seen as being an efficient mechanism that utilized GEF funds to support relevant and tangible solar energy and bio-fuel activities. Specifically, PIGGAREP training activities made and are still making a valuable contribution to the sustainability of the solar energy aspects of the project.

Teachers Solar Lighting Project, Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Another project that came out of the initial GEF funding was the Teachers Solar Lighting Project, World Bank 2005, and it was implemented through the Rural Energy Fund. The provision of lighting in rural PNG is mostly through diesel or kerosene lamps and these solutions have become very expensive and given the logistics of the islands it makes a sound case for stand-alone renewable energy systems. In short, the idea behind the Teachers Solar Lighting Project was to improve the life of service providers in the rural areas of PNG as well as:

  • Improve the delivery of education and health services throughout rural PNG
  • Provide affordable financing with the intention of making solar technology affordable for teachers and the general public
  • Develop knowledge amongst stakeholders and create extensive outreach and support programs
  • Develop the markets through international standards and getting companies certified
  • Remove the barriers to wide spread use of solar PV (photovoltaics) for electricity


Earlier in the year Solar Choice visited the Republic of Palau, and is currently managing the tender there for a 90kW installation. Our experience and these world bank supported projects suggest that solar panels are proving to be a cost-effective and reliable way to produce clean and renewable energy and offset the huge cost in these countries of running diesel generators.

Written by Prateek Chourdia

MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW

Solar Energy Analyst

Solar Choice

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd


Pacific Island Renewable Energy Project


Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project >

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Teachers Solar Lighting Project, Papua New Guinea (PNG)



  1. Hi
    I am looking into the financial viability of putting a commercial daylight solar system into Tonga. The company that I am doing this for has 3 sites operating 24/7. Their currant usage is approximately 18735.77 units per site per month.Could you please put me in contact with a installer that would help with this project ? I have contacted two companies in NZ. Solar World and Solar King.


    Darrin Byford

    1. Hi Darrin,

      Thanks for the message. Solar Choice operates only in Australia (the above article is a topical piece about solar in the Pacific region). It might be worth your time to get in touch with GSES, who are Australia-based but operate extensively throughout APAC.

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