JICA-MEC work on hybrid systems

JICA and MEC engineers perform maintenance exercises during a training program last week. Photo: Eve Burns.

EVE BURNS

Marshalls Energy Company (MEC), National Energy Office (NEO), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) convened their fifth and final joint coordination committee meeting last week in Majuro for the project to introduce hybrid power generation systems in the RMI. The hybrid system is composed of diesel generation and renewable energy.

JICA is providing assistance to increase local expertise in hybrid power generation planning, operation, and maintenance.

The overall goal for this project is to increase the RMI’s energy security and sustainability through reduction of fossil fuel use by the power plants and increasing use of renewable energy.

This project started in March 2017, but because of the Covid pandemic, the JICA expert team was forced to switch to online training after being unable to offer hands-on instruction for three years in a row. Given the nature of the project’s activities, this change made it extremely challenging to produce some of the anticipated results, like maintenance work for pilot diesel engine units.

“As one of the residents in Majuro, I have been experiencing frequent power outages last couple of months,” said Resident Representative of JICA Hikoyuki Ukai. “When I recognize a power supply being restored in the middle of the night, I was always thankful and realized all the efforts put in by MEC engineers and technicians. I think that if regular maintenance has been performed properly, some of the outages would have been preventable. I really think that the pandemic had affected us a lot by preventing MEC engineers and technicians from hands on training opportunities.”

He said during the very limited time for the JICA expert team, they reviewed the basics of operation manuals for MEC engineers and technicians. This project will end in June 2023, but before the completion, the project will organize a regional training in Fiji to invite all the counterparts from the member countries by April.

“I encourage MEC engineers and technicians to take part in the workshop in Fiji and manage their busy work schedules accordingly,” Ukai said. “The core trainers who have participated in the training in RMI, Japan and Fiji are expected to continue on the job training for other staff inside the organization to share the necessary skills and knowledge for the introduction of Hybrid Power Generation Systems.”

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