Bula! This November, members of the Mana Pacific team traveled to Fiji to actively participate in the “Accelerating Clean Energy Transitions and Resilience in Pacific Island Countries (PICs)” Regional Workshop, held from November 14-16 at the Laucala Campus, University of the South Pacific in Suva. The workshop was hosted by Arizona State University and organized by USAID, the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE), the Global Green Growth Institute, and The University of the South Pacific. This workshop outlined actionable plans and support for projects in the Pacific seeking funding, as well as hosted in-depth technical training for solar and microgrid design using Xendee.
As a part of the workshop, Mana Pacific’s Managing Director of International Project Origination, Dr. Sione. Nailasikau. Halatuituia, and their Chief Engineer, Logan Weber, hosted panel discussions on overcoming project barriers and Mana Pacific’s approach of working with communities first in renewable energy development.
Regarding project barriers, Logan delved into the challenges of developing and securing finance in the Pacific. He highlighted technological complexities, permitting issues, and the need to bridge disconnects between all parties in the renewable energy development process.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nailasikau Halatuituia spoke from his perspective as a Pacific islander native to the Kingdom of Tonga and emphasized Mana Pacific’s community-centric approach. He spoke passionately about Mana Pacific’s commitment to prioritizing community needs and ensuring that projects are co-created with the communities they serve.
Central to this workshop was to be a unifying, action-oriented response to the call from Pacific Islands Forum leaders for a just transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific. This workshop was a direct response to the outcome of the 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting (PRETMM), of which Mana Pacific also participated, which called for the need to leverage resources and mobilize expertise to propel a 100% renewable energy future. As such, the workshop attendees represented a variety of stakeholders: utilities, regulators, community advocates, governmental bodies, developers, and funding institutions. The commitment and active participation of various energy sector leaders and stakeholders from 10 Pacific Island Countries demonstrated a shared resolve to translate dialogue and promises into tangible actions.
The workshop’s sessions covered a wide spectrum of technological solutions, including solar, microgrids, energy efficiency upgrades, energy storage, and load management. Microgrids specifically emerged as a timely focus given their intrinsic resilience in the face of escalating cyclone impacts across the Pacific – including Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Mal that was blowing through Fiji only hours earlier. As cyclone-induced grid outages become more prevalent, the emphasis on microgrid concepts promises not only sustainable energy solutions but resilient infrastructure capable of weathering these crises. Beyond the technical aspects, the workshop resonated with thematic discussions on climate change, gender equality in energy, economic implications, workforce development, and the unique regional interests specific to the Pacific. These dialogues reinforced the interconnectedness of sustainability and inclusivity in the energy transition narrative we are currently seeing unfold.
Overall, this workshop illuminated the technological solutions and provided practical, technical knowledge and dialogue that the 5th PRETMM called for. Its sessions helped support the 10 attending Pacific Island Countries to progress with their energy transitions at home and move towards a fossil fuel-free Pacific.
This progress includes the workshop’s and ASU’s support of Mana Pacific’s work in Fiji – including their community solar projects with Mataqali tribes on Viti Levu, and off-grid mini-grids on the outer islands of the Lau Group.
Mana Pacific extends its thank you to those who made this workshop possible, and are honored to have been in attendance. Vinaka!
More information on the workshop and technical resource materials can be found here: https://www.pcreee.org/event/regional-workshop-accelerating-clean-energy-transitions-and-resilience-pacific-island