Tonga, a Small Island Developing State in the Asia-Pacific region, is highly vulnerable to climate change. Despite having a huge potential for renewable energy, particularly from solar and wind, several technical and financial barriers have constrained the uptake of renewable energy in the country, resulting to a reliance on fossil fuels for more than 70% of electricity generation in 2018.
To enable Tonga's shift from fossil fuel-based energy generation and achieve its NDC targets of generating half of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 70% by 2030, the GCF Board approved the Tonga Renewable Energy Project (TREP) in its 21st meeting held in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain from 17-20 October 2018. The project, cofinanced with the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia, requested for USD 29.9 million in GCF resources.
The project will help install utility scale energy storage systems to facilitate the integration of variable renewable energy to Tonga's power grid. By stabilising the grid and enabling absorption of more renewables through large scale storage systems, Tonga will be ready to unlock further private sector investments to support its energy transition through viable IPPs. The project will further support the installation of grid-connected solar PV plants, the installation of various renewable-based mini-grid systems on the outer islands as well as capacity building for Operation and Maintenance of the assets.
TREP is critical to the commitment of the Government of Tonga to address the challenges of climate change while increasing access to green energy. GCF financing will be reflected on the daily lives of beneficiaries with reduced electricity tariffs due to savings incurred on diesel imports. Mr Pierre Telep, Renewable Energy Senior Specialist at GCF, underscored the potential of the project for knowledge and learning, "Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific as well as in many parts of the world share common renewable energy challenges and opportunities. Consequently, we hope that an integrated intervention that covers power generation, grid stability and power distribution like TREP can be replicated in various places."
Mr Poasi Mataele Tei, Minister for Energy of the Kingdom of Tonga, underscored the important contribution that the project will play in the country. "TREP is not only the largest renewable energy sector project ever – but once implemented, it will achieve Tonga's NDC targets together with a more secured, clean, sustainable and affordable energy as outlined in the Tonga Energy Roadmap – TERM."
GCF contributes to global energy transformation by helping developing countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), reduce their carbon footprint in power generation and makes sure access to energy is access to clean energy.
Renewable Energy Senior Specialist
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