Fiji Partners with the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation to Develop Innovative Renewable Energy Solution for Rural Communities
Inspired by Fiji’s Presidency of COP23, the Fijian Government, with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), will bring renewable energy to eligible rural communities across the country.
Together with Sunergise (Fiji) Limited, the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) and the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA), the new Fiji Rural Electrification Fund will bring solar power to communities with no electricity or that rely on pollution-emitting diesel generators.
LDF will provide a grant as seed funding to electrify the villages of Vio and Nacula, the first two communities taking part in the pilot phase of the program. LDF will then help mobilise funding for additional communities. Once a sufficient number of communities are operational, the revenues from the electricity sales will be used to finance further communities, creating a self-funding system that will expand the program throughout rural Fiji.
Terry Tamminen, C.E.O. of LDF said, “Island nations are on the front lines of climate change, and with Fiji’s leadership we can demonstrate how practical renewable energy solutions can improve lives and increase resiliency at the same time.”
The Fijian Prime Minister and President of COP23, Frank Bainimarama, said, “This program is a shining example of the Grand Coalition we are mobilising to address the challenge of climate change by working with leaders across the world and from all walks of life – governments at all levels, the private sector, foundations and civil society. As incoming COP23 President, I am pleased to see this partnership coming together for the good of the Fijian people and as a model that can work in other countries around the globe.”
The Fijian Attorney-General and Minister responsible for climate change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that this program was an example of Fiji’s determination to partner with the private sector to deliver essential services to the Fijian people and help them prepare for the growing impacts of climate change. “This innovative financing program will provide clean energy to communities at the same or a lower price than diesel generators, which rely on a supply chain that is easily disrupted by extreme weather events. We are keen to continue our work alongside the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and urge this fund be established on the basis of sustainability, so we can attract more private sector investments, foundation contributions and benefits for ordinary Fijians” he said.
The communities served by this program will receive round-the-clock electricity services from solar and battery hybrid systems for the same or less money than they currently spend on fossil fuels to run diesel generators for only three to four hours a day.
Sunergise Co-Founder and Managing Director, Ajay Raniga, expressed delight in being a development partner for this initiative. “We are very excited and honoured to work with the Fijian Government, FEA, LDF and FLMMA to provide the commercial and technical skills to make their rural electrification project successful and provide sustainable solutions to communities across Fiji.”
RokoSau Josefa Cinavilakeba, Board Trustee and Vanua Representative of FLMMA, noted the community resiliency benefits of the program. “A vibrant, empowered and resilient community is critical in adapting to the future. We are honoured to be part of this exciting collaboration in helping brighten the future of these communities.”
Gardiner Whiteside, the Deputy Chairman of FEA, said “FEA is proudly committed to providing electricity services to Fijian communities while improving the environment. This is a timely initiative given FEA’s key corporate strategic goal to become a 100 per cent renewable energy provider to all Fijians. FEA is the largest renewable energy generator in Fiji and we thank our partners in this project for their leadership in achieving our shared vision.”
The first two communities are expected to come online in the third quarter of 2018.