Inspired by Fiji's Presidency of COP23, the Fijian Government, with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will bring renewable energy to eligible rural communities across the country through the Fiji Rural Electrification Fund (FREF).
FREF is a public-private partnership with Sunergise (Fiji) Limited, the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) and the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA). The Fund will bring affordable solar power and battery storage to communities with no electricity or that rely on pollution-emitting diesel generators.
The Fijian Prime Minister and President of COP23, Frank Bainimarama, said: “This program is a shining example of the Grand Coalition we are mobilizing to address the challenge of climate change by working with leaders across the world and from all walks of life - governments at all levels, the private sector, foundations and civil society. As incoming COP23 President, I am pleased to see this partnership coming together for the good of the Fijian people and as a model that can work in other countries around the globe.”
LDF will provide a grant as seed funding to electrify the first two villages, beginning with the village of Vio in Spring 2018. By the end of the year, FREF will have identified a pipeline of the next ten villages, hoping to catalyze investment and deployment soon thereafter. Once a sufficient number of communities are operational, the revenues from the electricity sales will be used to finance future installations and maintenance, creating a self-funding system that will expand the program throughout rural Fiji.
Terry Tamminen, C.E.O. of LDF said, “Island nations are on the front lines of climate change, and with Fiji's leadership we can demonstrate how practical renewable energy solutions can improve lives and increase resiliency at the same time.”
The communities served by this program will receive round-the-clock electricity services from solar and battery hybrid systems for the same or less money than they currently spend on fossil fuels to run diesel generators for only three to four hours a day.
RokoSau Josefa Cinavilakeba, Board Trustee and Vanua Representative of FLMMA, noted the community resiliency benefits of the program. “A vibrant, empowered and resilient community is critical in adapting to the future. We are honored to be part of this exciting collaboration in helping brighten the future of these communities.”