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July 10, 2017

Vanuatu’s renewable electricity power plan

Written by Kylie Barton

Renewable electricity is something Island Spirit is incredibly passionate about, and we are ecstatic to hear that our new host nation Vanuatu has a renewable, rural electrification project underway that will see over 9000 resident’s homes installed with electricity. We welcome this drive supported by a number of partners around the world and are certain it will help elevate the quality of life on this beautiful island.

The announcement that Vanuatu will receive $4 million for the second phase of the project is of great importance for the local people and visitors to the island nation. It is part of a $40 million 10-year plan from the World bank. This stage will help bring power to the homes of almost 50,000 people for the first time. It is astonishing in these times, we still have large swathes of people sat in darkness. The World Bank and the New Zealand Government are providing the funds to solve this problem in Vanuatu. The project will also allow a number of businesses to make the crucial transition to renewable energy in the form of solar power. Vanuatu certainly has enough sunshine to power every building in the nation.

Renewable electricity Vanuatu plans

The fund will enable this transition through partial subsidy of the costs of implementation to around 8,500 homes. It will also support the construction of the grid systems for larger communities. Vanuatu ministers realise the economic and environmental benefits that the project will bring, but also in addition, the numerous social benefits. Access to technology will improve the standard of living, access to education, and ability to access health services for families across the islands. Vanuatu has previously been in receipt of this sort of ‘power’ aid. In 2016 Australia too contributed $1 million to help with the rural electrification programme when the number of people in rural areas with access to power was even lower.

The horror of cyclone Pam in March 2015 left the nation with very little infrastructure in terms of power. Since then plans have been made, but it is inarguable that this fund’s contribution is invaluable to the people still suffering in that natural disasters wake. At the time of writing, only around one fifth of people living in rural areas in Vanuatu have access to electricity. It is extremely isolating. The government themselves have the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 – an ambitious target when you look at other ‘more developed’ nations around the world, but one that is certainly achievable. It is suggested that Vanuatu is on par with some of the most underdeveloped nations in Africa when it comes to electrification. The government in Vanuatu wishes to boost the economy through fostering a range of sustainable industries in the area, and this project is part of that wider economic plan.

This program in our very own Vanuatu shows that development can be done differently, in a sustainable way, instead of following the blueprint laid down by already developed countries. This is of critical importance, as climate change becomes an increasingly real threat to some of the poorest nations on earth, they must innovate to develop in sustainable ways. Renewable energy is just a small part of this shift, but it is an incredibly important development as it can underpin many other parts of sustainable development, such as the way business and tourism is conducted, attitudes towards other types of pollution, and looking to use ready existing resources rather than creating waste.

Read more about the island nation’s other plans for a sustainable future, here.

Island Spirit’s rare tribal hiking experience in Vanuatu is available to book now. Take a look at our eco tour details here.