Renewable Energy to Promote Rural Education in FijiRitesh Singh
It is clear the world has a long way to go to reach the common sustainability goal of 100% energy access for all by 2030. Not long ago, Fiji revised its energy policy targets for 100% electrification by 2020 and an optimistic 99% renewable generation by 2030. Unfortunately, that has yet to become a reality. Challenges such as climate change, resulting in several damaging tropical storms, and the global Covid pandemic have delayed progress.
Climate change negatively impacts Small Island Developing States (SIDS) more than larger landmasses with modern infrastructure. Fiji, a 300+ island nation of less than a million inhabitants, has seen sea levels and temperatures rising and an increase in severe weather. In fact, the 2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston alone impacted 62% of Fiji’s population and caused damage and loss of US$ 995 million.
Residents and businesses in remote island villages continue to struggle without access to safe, reliable, and affordable power. Fiji’s top industry is tourism. Most tourists are not amenable to accommodations without power, intermittent power, noisy and polluting diesel generators, and dangerous kerosene lighting. However, lack of reliable energy has even higher long-term dire consequences for the children being poorly educated in these remote communities.
Educational activities have become more complex as every country prepares its citizens to contribute to the modern global economy. Today’s basic curriculum cannot be mastered without access to computers, the internet, and other telecommunications distance learning technologies. Additionally, students need to spend more time studying after dark. Pollution-free, safe lighting is critical for successful learning.
Thankfully, there are organizations and programs supporting the installation of renewable energy systems to power education in rural communities.
Vision Energy Solutions (VES) of Fiji was contracted by a leading global development consulting firm with more than 40 years of experience providing practical and sustainable international development services in over 80 countries, to design and construct custom solar systems to provide power to schools in the remote villages of Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands. The VES engineering and installation experts are all Fijian and highly experienced in renewable energy technologies. The VES projects were successful due to the traits and experience of the VES team:
• Superior level of international professionalism/English speakers
• Advanced solar technical expertise
• Access to modern solar component vendors
• Focus on flawless quality
• Familiarity with local culture
• Prior social relationships with local community members to establish trust quickly
• Commitment and dedication to get the job done within significant infrastructure challenges
It is important to note, most of the projects were constructed in remote villages without road access. The VES team needed to be familiar with the local conditions and be willing to walk in equipment long distances. Obviously, no grid electricity or telecom signal was available. The team relied on hand tools, fossil fuel generators, and outdated communication methods needed to be employed.
|School||Location||Project Type||Project Description|
|Naivaka Primary School||Naivaka in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||2.46kWp PV System with 3.0kW Inverter and 7.68kWh Battery Storage|
|Cadranasiga Primary School||Cadranasiga in Macuata||Solar PV with Battery Storage||4.10kWp PV System with 5.0kW Inverter and 15.36kWh Battery Storage|
|Namuka-i-cake Primary School||Namuka-i-cake in Natewa||Solar PV with Battery Storage||10.56kW PV System with 10.0kW Inverter and 76.80kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Tunuloa Primary School||Tunuloa in Cakaudrove||Solar PV with Battery Storage||2.72kW PV System with 2.4kW Inverter and 13.59kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Valelawa Primary School||Valelawa in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||2.42kW PV System with 2.4kW Inverter and 13.59kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Dama Primary School||Dama in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||1.70kW PV System with 2.4kW Inverter and 13.59kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Koroinasolo Primary School||Koroinasolo in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||3.0kW PV System with 5.0kW Inverter and 19.20kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Saint Paul Primary School||Naviavia in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||3.0kW PV System with 5.0kW Inverter and 19.20kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|
|Dawara Primary School||Dawara in Bua||Solar PV with Battery Storage||2.50kW PV System with 5.0kW Inverter and 19.20kWh Battery Storage (Refurbishment)|