The New Zealand and Samoan Governments along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union (EU) have launched the Fuluasou hydropower component of the co-financed Samoa Renewable Energy Development and Power Sector Rehabilitation Project this week in Apia.
This project aims to cut Samoa’s reliance on fossil fuel, while also increasing energy security.
At a groundbreaking ceremony, representatives turned the first sod to mark the start of construction of the Fuluasou hydropower plant, which has a preliminary capacity of 0.68 megawatts.
One of the Samoa Renewable Energy Development and Power Sector Rehabilitation Project’s targets is to save about 3.6 million litres of diesel per year as clean power is rolled out to replace diesel generated power.
Speaking at the launch, the Hon Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says lowering Samoa’s reliance on fossil fuels will free up resources for other priority needs, and national energy security and sustainability will improve.
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 60 percent of its energy from diesel generators, with total fuel imports amounting to 95 million litres 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 on operation and maintenance of facilities.
The EU 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 $USD23.83 million to $USD32.59 million.
Samoa’s Government is providing $USD5.63 million in counterpart support.
New Zealand’s Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully says supporting Samoa to open what was the largest solar farm in the Pacific, would save 1.1m litres of diesel annually, worth approximately NZ$2 million.
“The Hydro partnership, when completed, will have the capability to supply up to 13 percent of Samoa’s energy needs,” Minister McCully says.
Meanwhile, Michael Strauss, Alternate Executive Director from ADB’s Board of Directors says fuel imports to power Samoa’s electrical grid cost about 10 percent of GDP each year.
“Developing energy sector targets and roadmaps, as well as establishing regulatory environments that promote clean energy and safeguards are important goals of ADB and its development partners,” he says.
European Union Ambassador to Samoa and the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs says the EU 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.
“This programme is also relevant for Agenda 2030,” the Ambassador says.
“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 promotes progress towards target 13, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”