With the Guam FestPac wrapping up a few weeks ago, I was glad I had a chance to talk to some of the leaders of the 26 island nations represented to see how their islands energy system is doing and what are their long term plans. I was highly impressed with a few of the islands including Tuvalu. This island nation with a 12,000 population has established a national goal of being powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2020.
Government officials and the donors of Tuvalu’s first large-scale solar energy system alike hope the moves help inspire much larger nations such as Guam and the CNMI to break the fossil fuel trap and also commit to empowering the community of our Island.
The solar system installed on the roof of Tuvalu’s largest football stadium now supplies 5 percent of the electricity needed by that nation’s capital, Funafuti.
In its first 14 months, the operation has reduced Tuvalu’s consumption of generator fuel, shipped from New Zealand, by about 17,000 liters and reduced Tuvalu’s carbon footprint by about 50 tons.
In the process, it has also reduced the risk of diesel spills around the archipelago of four low-lying coral islands and five atolls, and adding to the islands energy security by the reduction on the reliance of fossil fuel. Based on the project’s success, the country now aims to be powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2020. Tuvalu is halfway between Hawaii and Australia, 26 square km in size, with a maximum elevation of just 4.5 meters and most of its land less than a meter above sea level.
Tuvalu is already experiencing flooding amid predictions of a large sea level rise this century due to the devastation of climate change. We all can learn a lot off of this small but progressive island nation where they understand the importance of moving away for a utility business model that not only does not work anymore but is causing havoc in the Pacific Rim. In cities also across the United States, 12 cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are adopting policies that will steer their pathway to 100 percent renewable over the next 25 years. I believe we will be able to get there in less than 15 years. Lyndon Rive, the CEO of Solar City, said solar is going to start gaining real traction in the next few years and the way we build power plants today won’t happen in five years’ time. With that being said and the cost of solar energy and battery energy technology getting cheaper why is there even discussions on revamping or building new power plants. We need to be the light for all of our surrounding islands to commit to an energy pathway that gives the community of Guam and the CNMI energy freedom with 100 percent renewable energy and not burdened by years of piled up debt with old technology power plants that will soon be deemed dysfunctional.
Power to the people!