Samoa took one step closer to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel yesterday.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, hailed the step as one in the right direction towards Samoa’s goal of increasing energy security.
It happened when Tuilaepa, the government of New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) and the European Union (E.U.) launched the $74million Fuluasou hydropower component of the Samoa Renewable Energy Development and Power Sector Rehabilitation Project.
At a groundbreaking ceremony, representatives turned the first sod to mark the start of construction of the Fuluasou hydropower plant.
The plant has a preliminary capacity of 0.68 megawatts.
One of the project’s targets is to save about 3.6 million liters of diesel per year as clean power is rolled out to replace diesel-generated power.
“Lowering Samoa’s reliance on fossil fuels will help free up resources for other priority needs while improving national energy security and sustainability,” Tuilaepa said.
The funds will help boost the project which supports the government’s drive to reduce Samoa’s reliance on imported fossil fuels for power generation by providing clean and reliable electricity.
Samoa generates 60per cent of its energy from diesel generators, with total fuel imports amounting to 95 million liters in 2012 — the same year the country’s hydropower plants were severely damaged by Cyclone Evan.
The project is also providing training for staff of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) on operation and maintenance of facilities.
The E.U. is providing a $USD5.06 million equivalent grant, with the Government of New Zealand adding a $USD2.49 million grant to fund the initiative.
These additional grants have increased the overall project investment from the original US$23.83 million to US$32.59 million (T$74million).
The Government of Samoa is providing $USD5.63 million in counterpart support.
“We supported Samoa to open what was the largest solar farm in the Pacific, saving 1.1m litres of diesel annually, worth approximately NZ$2 million,” said New Zealand Foreign Minister, Tupa’i Murray McCully.
“The Hydro partnership, when completed, will have the capability to supply up to 13% of Samoa’s energy needs.
“Fuel imports to power the country’s electrical grid cost about 10% of GDP each year,” said Michael Strauss, Alternate Executive Director from A.D.B’s Board of Directors, at the ground-breaking ceremony.
“Developing energy sector targets and roadmaps, as well as establishing regulatory environments that promote clean energy and safeguards are important goals of A.D.B. and its development partners.”
''The E.U. is proud to support the Samoan government's policy to increase power generation from renewable sources, increase the power sector’s generation portfolio and ultimately increase the energy security of the country,” said E.U. Ambassador to Samoa and the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs.
“This program is also relevant for Agenda 2030. It contributes primarily to the progressive achievement of Sustainable Development Goal target 7, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, and also promotes progress towards target 13, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”