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Funding & Incentives

World Bank to plug in solar project in remote Kiribati

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati will soon have a reliable supply of solar energy.

A formal agreement signed by the World Bank and the Government of Kiribati during the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland will see the installation of solar panels at four sites across the capital of South Tarawa.

Details about the generating capacity and construction schedule of the project have not yet been revealed, but the project is expected to help Kiribati reduce its diesel fuel consumption by as much as 230,000 liters annually while reducing carbon emissions.

Training will also be provided to the Kiribati Public Utilities Board on the operation and maintenance of the solar power facilities.

Australia will back the project with 3.2 million Australian dollars ($3.3 million) in funding through AusAID’s the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility. The project will also receive a $1 million grant from the Global Environment Fund.

“Kiribati faces big challenges – it is remote, it is at risk from the effects of climate change, and it is vulnerable to economic shocks,” said president of Kiribati, Anote Tong. “Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure, more sustainable power source for the country’s people.”

Currently, nearly half of Kiribati’s 110,000 people live on Tarawa, which gives the area a population density higher than Tokyo, and most rely on expensive diesel generators for electricity.

“This project is a win-win for Kiribati and sets an important precedent for renewable energy development in the country,” said World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands, Franz Drees-Gross.

Kiribati is one of the most isolated countries in the world and has one of the highest rates of poverty in the Pacific. Made up of 33 low-lying islands, the country is largely vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.

Apart from scarce power supply, Kiribati also suffers from limited drinking water and food caused by very little arable land and fresh water, according to the World Bank. Furthermore, the island nation is far-flung and away from major trading partners with poor transport infrastructure making the cost of importing goods and services very high. – EcoSeed Staff

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