Kyocera (News - Alert) Solar, Inc., of Kyoto, Japan, has announced that its solar arrays will bring light and power to more than 2,000 homes in the remote villages of the Fiji Islands.
The solar systems are being deployed in partnership with Fiji’s Department of Energy and in line with pledges made at the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (Palm 5) in May 2009. To date, 135 kilowatts (kW) have been installed and the remaining 270 kW will be in place by the end of the year.
At Palm 5, held in Tokyo, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso joined with the ministers of the Pacific Island Leaders’ 16 member states to advocate a Pacific Environmental Community initiative, which, he said, would “enable Japan to address the issues in this area as equal partners with the Pacific Island countries.”
As part of that promise, Japan committed to offer “cooperation, to the tune of 6.8 billion yen [US$61 million], in the form of donations of solar panels and so on through the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), in order to support the endeavors of the Pacific island countries on the environmental front by using Japan's leading-edge technology. In addition, in this area Japan shall also engage in human resources development over the coming three years including 1,500 environment[al] experts.”
“Solar energy makes so much sense for island nations that often lack an electricity grid infrastructure but have an abundance of sunshine year-round,” said George Phani, sales manager for Kyocera Solar Australia. “With our Kyocera modules, many Fijians have been given light and other electricity into the night – maybe for the first time. We hope this program can serve as a template for other islands to follow."The member countries of the Pacific Islands Leaders include Australia, Cook, Fiji, FSM, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, New Zealand, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
In addition to difficult access to energy sources and other amenities of modern life, the small Pacific islands—including Fiji, which is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island— are threatened in a very real way by climate change.
At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council a little over a year ago, Marcus Stephen, the President of Nauru, an island nation in Micronesia in the South Pacific, said that the very survival of many small island nations has been threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change. Some islands could disappear altogether [as ocean waters continue to rise], forcing large numbers of peoples to relocate — first internally and then across borders.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman