Renewable energy in Tuvalu
Renewable energy in Tuvalu is a growing sector of the country's energy supply. Tuvalu has committed to becoming the first country to get 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. This is considered possible because of the small size of the population of Tuvalu and its abundant energy resources due to its tropical location. It is somewhat complicated because Tuvalu consists of eight populated islands. The Tuvalu National Energy Policy (TNEP) was formulated in 2009, and the Energy Strategic Action Plan defines and directs current and future energy developments so that Tuvalu can achieve the ambitious target of 100% Renewable Energy for power generation by 2020. The program is expected to cost 20 million US dollars and is supported by the e8, a group of 10 electric companies from G8 countries.
Tuvalu participates in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that have concerns about their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. Under the Majuro Declaration, which was signed on 5 September 2013, Tuvalu has commitment to implement power generation of 100% renewable energy (between 2013 and 2020), which is proposed to be implemented using Solar PV (95% of demand) and biodiesel (5% of demand). The feasibility of wind power generation will be considered.
Tuvalu's carbon footprint
Funafuti's power station comprises three 750kVA diesel generators with 11kV operating voltage, which was installed in 2007. Total power output is 1,800 kW. The old generators have remained offline (1920 kW) but are available as back-up to the main system. The cost of diesel is subsidised by approximately 40% of the annual fuel consumption through the Japan Non Project Grant Assistance (NPGA), although this subsidy may end, which will expose the true cost of diesel generation of electricity.
Seven of the eight outer islands are powered by 48 - 80 kW each diesel generators with a total generating capacity per island averaging 176 kW, although Vaitupu generates 208 kW and Nukulaelae generates 144 kW. Niulakita operates individual DC home solar systems. In the other islands the diesel generators are run for 12–18 hours per day. For the small power stations on the outlying islands, fuel has to be transferred to 200 liter (55 gallon) barrels and offloaded from the ships. A small project to power the inter-island telecommunications systems by photovoltaics began in 1979 but was mismanaged.
A project installed hundreds of small household solar systems as well as solar powered medical refrigerators beginning in the early 1980s but poor training and management led to installation and maintenance problems.
Tuvalu, barely above sea level at any point, is concerned over global warming and sea level rise and see its use of renewable energy as a moral example for others whose influence is greater. Kausea Natano, Tuvalu's minister for public utilities and industries in the Telavi Ministry stated this as "We thank those who are helping Tuvalu reduce its carbon footprint as it will strengthen our voice in upcoming international negotiations. And we look forward to the day when our nation offers an example to all -- powered entirely by natural resources such as the sun and the wind."
The Sopoaga Ministry led by Enele Sopoaga made a commitment under the Majuro Declaration, which was signed on 5 September 2013, to implement power generation of 100% renewable energy (between 2013 and 2020). This commitment is proposed to be implemented using Solar PV (95% of demand) and biodiesel (5% of demand). The feasibility of wind power generation will be considered.
In 2007, Tuvalu was getting 2% of its energy from solar, through 400 small systems managed by the Tuvalu Solar Electric Co-operative Society. These were installed beginning in 1984 and, in the late 1990s, 34% of families in the outer islands had a PV system (which generally powered 1-3 lights and perhaps a few hours a day of radio use). Each of the eight islands had a medical center with a PV-powered vaccine refrigerator and each island's solar technician had a larger PV system which ran a household refrigerator. Followup on the installations showed no deterioration of the PV panels but switches and light fixtures had suffered damage or failed from the salt air.
The first large scale system was a 40 kW solar panel installation on the roof of Tuvalu Sports Ground. This grid-connected 40 kW solar system was established in 2008 by the E8 and Japan Government through Kansai Electric Company (Japan) and contributes 1% of electricity production on Funafuti. Future plans include expanding this plant to 60 kW.
A 46 kW solar installation with battery storage at the Motufoua Secondary School on Vaitupu island was brought online on 27 November 2009. At the date of installation it was described as the largest diesel-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid electricity system in the South Pacific. Prior to the installment of the system the residential school relied upon a diesel powered generator, which needed to be turned off during the night. The hybrid system systems saves thousands of dollars in diesel costs and provides the school with a 24-hour supply of energy, with up to 200 kW per day.
Another 65 kW grid-tied system was announced in late 2011 for Funafuti.
In January 2014 Tuvalu signed an agreement with MASDAR, a UAE Government company, which will provided US$3 million in aid to help Tuvalu solarize the outer islands, so as to reduce reliance on fossil fuel for electricity generation.
In March 2014 the European Union provided finance to the Government of Tuvalu so that CBS Power Solutions (a Fijian company) will supply and installation battery-backed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for the islands of Nukulaelae, Nukufetau and Nui. The 191kWp project will provide the islands with 24 hours-a-day electricity and will allow Tuvalu to save up to 120,000 litres of diesel per year, amounting to reduction in spending on diesel of about AU$200,000. In April 2014 New Zealand entered into a partnership with the European Union and Tuvalu to implement the project.
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