It’s not only marketing men with electrodes in their brains who are worried about Fiji and its environmental fragility. Fiji is presiding the current COP23 talks in Bonn, so it’s much in the news, and the Guardian joined the fray with a frightening account of how many billions it must spend to adapt to climate change.
Fiji must spend an amount equivalent to its entire yearly gross domestic product over the next 10 years, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the small island nation’s vulnerability to climate change, compiled by its government with the assistance of the World Bank. Released half-way through the COP23 in Bonn, which Fiji is presiding over, the report highlights five major interventions and 125 further actions that it says are necessary to achieve Fiji’s development objectives, while facing the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.
The Guardian doesn’t provide a link, and I couldn’t find it at the World Bank site, possibly because it’s being launched later this evening by the Fijian Ministry of Economy, but I did find a link at the World Bank site to this article which treats the subject at a grassroots level:
Suva, Fiji, May 24, 2016 – The Lal family live in Nakasi, a town about 30 minutes’ drive from of Suva, capital of Fiji… a kilometre away from the closest electricity grid. With no power lines available, and other forms of energy such as diesel-powered generators extremely expensive to operate, access to electricity for families like the Lals has, until recently, remained a constant challenge.
Fiji is keen to change this – their Sustainable Energy for All goals include sourcing more than 80% of the country’s electricity from renewable energies by 2020, and 100% by 2030... To encourage financial institutions to lend money for renewable energy equipment like solar panels and hydro units, a risk sharing fund has been established through the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy Finance Project…
Through the project, more than 60 loans have already been approved for renewable energy equipment. These loans have been taken out by small enterprises, community organizations and individuals. The project has also provided training to five small enterprises and community organizations on equipment repair and maintenance, as well as general business skills, such as analyzing market trends.
CBS Power Solutions, a local company working in renewable energy, first heard about the risk sharing fund in 2009 and subsequently took out a loan to buy the equipment needed. They now install solar panels across the Pacific Islands.
For Sanjeev Lal, these solar panels are now an essential part of his family’s life. “Electricity is a need in today’s society,” said Sanjeev. “We needed it for the kids to study and watch TV, for the freezer for our food, for fans and computers. That’s why I was happy to make the investment. It’s a new thing for us; that glass panels can give us electricity, but I’m really happy with them and want to increase my set-up. Even if the electricity grid does come here, I would still be using solar.”
From CBS Power Solutions (Fiji) Ltd’s website we learn that it is a Renewable Energy Services Provider and General Contractors with a team (counting the visible hard hats in the photo) of at least 42 people, including “Electrical Engineers, Licensed Electricians, Computer Technology Experts and a very experienced office management team.”
They provide wind power, solar power, hybrid power, diesel generators, coconut oil fuel, and battery backup, andb have undertaken projects in about eleven Pacific countries. (I may haved miscounted, since many of them are subject to sudden disappearance.) Sixteen projects in Fiji are listed, consisting of:
7 for solar equipment/ power systems
2 for solar system maintenance
2 for battery chargers
2 for batteries
2 for diesel generators, and
1 for a biofuel generator
Their suppliers of solar products are Trinar Solar of Changzhou and Yingli Green Energy Holding of Baoding.
Batteries feature largely in their product range, which is not surprising, since CBS (Fiji) Ltd is a subsidiary of Complete Battery Solutions Pty Ltd of Glenwood, New South Wales, a proprietary (i.e. private) company. Complete Battery Solutions is the business name of Bobkat Holdings Pty Ltd. Of Brisbane. And there the trail ends, unless someone knows how to find out more about Australian proprietary limited companies.
At the tail end of the Fiji company’s website is this:
They already trust us – A list of our clients
The European Union
the United Nations Development Programme
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Asian Development Bank
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Masdar a Mubadala Company
Apparently the word “client” means something different in Fiji, unless Complete Battery Systems are really supplying solar panels and coconut oil fuel to the European Union and the World Bank. All the clients listed are aid agencies, except the last one. Masdar is a city in the United Arab Emirates, and Mubadala is busy “innovating and investing around the world to transform the world’s economy, accelerating Abu Dhabi’s economic growth through diverse investments worldwide.” How being a client of a Fijian solar panel firm furthers that aim is not clear.
The city of Masdar was designed to project an ecological and futuristic vision to the whole world. In 2008, the emirate of Abu Dhabi launched the project to build the first zero-waste, zero-carbon emissions city. With a budget of ten billion euros, the city was to house nearly 50,000 inhabitants and more than 1,500 companies.Today, Masdar seems a mirage based on hopes fostered by illusions…
Today, the city has only one hundred inhabitants and is surrounded by construction sites. However, there’s IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the Massachussetts Institute of Science and Technology. There’s hardly anything renewable and the city is nothing but an image of intense overconsumption: the buildings are all air-conditioned and large cars line the streets …
Not many large cars, one imagines, for a population of 100, but possibly more than line the streets of Fiji’s villages.
It’s a long way from Abu Dhabi to Fiji, especially if you go via the European Union and an Australian battery company. I suspect Fiji’s dream of 80% renewable electricity in three years’ time is going to come at a cost to someone.