A centre to fast-track the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in the private sector and business communities throughout the Pacific, has started operating out of its base in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, this month.
The Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) will help Pacific island countries and territories reach their renewable energy generation target of 100%, as part of their commitments to national energy plans and roadmaps, and commitments to the Paris Agreement and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Co-hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Government of Tonga, PCREEE is headed (in the interim) by Mr Solomone Fifita, a respected and internationally recognised veteran with more than 30 years of work experience in the energy sector of the Pacific Islands.
SPC’s Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said that under the leadership of Mr Fifita, the SPC is committed to ensuring PCREEE, “becomes a knowledge and innovative hub that brings together world class technical expertise and knowledge from around the world to serve the sustainable energy needs of its members”.
Deputy Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni confirmed the Tongan Government would support the centre in addition to hosting it in the kingdom.
“We are not only providing the office space and facilities, we are providing Tongan experts to support the initial technical expertise at the centre.”
“We will also make available our numerous renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on the ground for the research and training activities of the centre and we are prepared to assist in the resource mobilization effort of the centre,” he said.
Key industries with high job leverage, such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries, manufacturing, and the creative industry, will be targeted by PCREEE to get involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that would help boost their productivity.
Solomone Fifita told Matangi Tonga yesterday, that the projects they are already working towards at PCREEE, includes helping governments to ease restrictions slowing private sector progress.
“We are looking at working with governments to review legislations and policies that hinders the work of the private sector.”
Access to data and information is another project PCREEE is working on to ensure the private sector and the business community can access data specific to their needs.
“For instance, the private sector in Tonga may want to tender for a ADB-funded project using a particular brand of solar panels. They can visit the centre’s database and see the experiences in and outside of the region with that particular brand,” said Mr Fifita.
PCREEE will also work with the business community helping them to recognize the opportunities of using renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, which can generate more profit for businesses as well as being environmentally friendly.
“A small lodge may have a huge power bill from using electric water heaters whereas solar water heaters may be more cost effective. Similarly, fans may be better in some places compared to the energy intensive air conditioners. So investment and business promotion is part of the Centre’s role.”
Mr Fifita said there are lots of multi-million dollar energy projects throughout the Pacific providing opportunities for the private sector.
“The local private sector gets only a small portion of these opportunities.”
He said this is because of issues around their inability to put together competitive bids, lack of qualified and experienced local engineers, project managers, among others.
“The centre will provide targeted capacity development and training activities for the private sector to become more confident and competitive in the renewable energy and energy efficiency arena.”
“We plan to conduct the first national training here in Nuku’alofa and repeat the same in other countries of the region.”
He added that the centre is also a “platform for research, innovation and south-south collaboration with other similar regional centres around the globe”.
“In this area, the centre will have joint research with the Caribbean on ocean energy and wastes to energy.”
PCREEE was set up in response to a request by Energy Ministers in the region in 2014 to promote the private sector involvement in sustainable development of Pacific island countries and territories.
The centre will assist the Pacific island countries and territories with their commitments to national energy plans and roadmaps, and commitments to the Paris Agreement and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The PCREEE office currently has seven staff members and is located on the fourth floor of the Sanft building where MEIDECC (Ministry of Meteorology, Energy etc) is also located on Taufa’ahau Road, Central Business District.
The Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) is a collaboration between SPC, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, SIDS Dock, Government of Tonga as well as the Government of Austria.
Related article: First Pacific Centre for renewable energy opens in Tonga