Solar to save RMI $$ millions

An aerial view of the main island in Wotje Atoll, that is expected to see a major solar power project reduce the island’s dependence on diesel-generated electricity. Photo: Isaac Mary.
An aerial view of the main island in Wotje Atoll, that is expected to see a major solar power project reduce the island’s dependence on diesel-generated electricity. Photo: Isaac Mary.

The new government is putting its weight behind a $20 million solar project to transform the energy situation of Ebeye and three outer islands. If it gains the anticipated donor support, the solar development will slash fuel costs now shouldered by the RMI government by several million dollars annually.

Building on great work done previously, RMI wants to demonstrate its seriousness about combating climate change,” said President Dr. Hilda Heine about the Cabinet-endorsed plan. “Most importantly, it wants to lead by walking the talk.”

The RMI is seeking to match $11 million in World Bank grant funding with a concessional low-interest loan from IRENA, the United Arab Emirates alternative energy funding agency. “I hope IRENA and the World Bank will come on board to support this plan,” said the President. “It will help us cut subsidies and free up funds for development. Funding we save could be used for health and education or other projects.”

The planned solarization of Jaluit, Wotje and Rongrong will dramatically change their energy pictures from 100 percent reliance on diesel-powered electricity to a 90 percent solar-10 percent diesel mix. This is projected to save the government $1 million in the annual subsidy now provided to supply power to these three islands.

While Ebeye’s solar plan will only take over 35 percent of the power load for the island, this is estimated to cut KAJUR’s fuel bill by over $1 million a year.

“We can put this substantial money savings into development opportunities in RMI,” said Kwajalein Senator David Paul, who helped develop the plan. “It’s like having an annual grant.”

Read more about this in the February 19, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.

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