Clean Energy Access for Remote Pacific Island Countries – CLEARPICs

In Countries and Territories (PICTs) in the indo-Pacific access to electricity has increased from 31% of households on average in 2010 to 55% in 2018. Three of the largest and most populous PICTs, however, have the poorest electrification rates (by household) – Papua New Guinea (PNG) (47%), Solomon Islands (57%), and Vanuatu (64%). A mixed energy approach that continues to support the increasing demand for access to energy with the inclusion of some of the most remote and rural communities across the Pacific is critical towards achieving SDG7 and a shift away from fossil fuels to meet the countries Nationally Determined Contributions. Universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services is articulated in SDG 7, hence supporting remote and island-based communities to access energy and catalysing business opportunities will be transformative.

Existing hurdles and risks are high for private companies doing mini-grid projects in the PICTs. The remote nature of the islands and harsh marine environment poses challenges of accessibility and lack of economies of scale. Such unfavourable conditions result in a high cost and risk which prevents private companies from engaging. As a result, there has been a vacuum of responsibility for the sustainable operation of mini-grid projects, which in turn results in unsatisfactory performance and unfulfilled socio-economic benefits of mini-grid projects.

This new project is to support energy access across PICTs through research into technology applicability, scale and governance within case study countries by undertaking geographically specific research into opportunities for off-grid energy deployment within PICTs countries. The project includes five work packages with some delivered across all PICTs whereas others will be undertaken on a selection. The three PICTs that have the poorest electrification rates (PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) will be covered by specific tailored activities along with other PICTs that have made more energy access progress to help further progress pioneer markets and act as a reference case, such as Fiji.