Republic of the Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is composed of 22 inhabited atolls, totaling 181 km2 in land area, scattered over 1.2 million km2 of ocean (an area twice the size of France). Although some islands are several kilometres long they rarely exceed a few hundred meters in width and are often considerably narrower. The entire country is low lying with almost no land more than five meters above mean sea level.The population is roughly 60,000, and is growing at about 1.5% per year. Half of the population is concentrated in Majuro Atoll.
The economy of RMI is largely dependent on foreign aid, with an average of 60% of its GDP since independence coming from overseas grants. The country is more than 3200 km from the nearest sizeable trading centres of Honolulu and Tokyo. Outer island economies receive income from the sale of copra to Majuro atoll where the copra is converted to coconut oil as a diesel substitute. Other sources of income include remittances from family members working on Majuro or overseas, as well as pension payments from the national government.
Electricity is generated solely with diesel generators on Majuro and Kwajelein atolls, with the state-owned Marshalls Energy Company (MEC) providing generation and distribution services on Majuro, and the Kwajelein Atoll Joint Utility Resource (KAJUR) providing grid power on Kwajelein. MEC also operates and maintains small diesel systems as well as small off-grid PV systems on other atolls. Only 13% of households on the outer islands use electricity for lighting, compared to 90% on Majuro. MEC charges USD $0.37 per kWh for its residential electricity rates, one of the highest in the Pacific.
The REP-5 projects in RMI focus primarily on outer island electrification through solar PV systems, with some attention paid to demand-side energy efficiency on Majuro atoll.
Renewable energy projects
Supply and installation of solar home systems
Ailinglaplap atoll has received 420 solar home systems (SHS) of 200 Wp each. Each system will provide enough power for 3 indoor lights, one outdoor light, radio, mobile phone charging and a few hours of television. The SHS were supplied by CBS Power Solutions (Fiji) Ltd and the Marshalls Energy Company (MEC) was hired to install the equipment on the islets in the atoll. The project also provided spare parts to MEC, who will ultimately be responsible for the maintenance of the systems. Each household receiving a SHS will be charged a monthly maintenance fee by MEC. The equipment arrived in Majuro in April 2008, with installation in Ailinglaplap being carried out between June and September 2008. MEC published a report on the installation of the solar home systems, which is available here (2.27 Mb).
The total cost of the project, including installation, is € 1,350,000.
To download a slide show of the installation of the solar home systems on Ailinglaplap, click here (12.3 Mb).
Unloading equipment from supply ship
Installing panels, batteries, and charge controllers
Wiring houses for solar electricity
Complete solar home system
Supply and installation of off-grid solar PV systems for schools
Six primary schools on the five atolls of Arno, Ebon, Mejit, Namdrik and Namu are receiving stand-alone PV systems for powering lights and office equipment. The PV systems range from 6 to 13 kWp for a total of 55.6 kWp, and are being installed by MEC. The Ministry of Education will own the systems, and MEC will be responsible for maintenance. So far three schools have been electrified on the atolls of Arno and Ebon, with the next PV system being installed on Namdrik.
When completed, the project will provide electricity to over 650 pupils and teachers at the six schools. The PV systems are expected to provide the children with extended hours of study, reading, and other educational activities as well as social and recreational activities. The schools will also be able to power office equipment for teachers, improving the quality of education materials.
The total cost for the project, including installation, is €800,000.
PV array on roof of school on Ebon islet, Ebon Atoll
Control room on Ebon islet, Ebon Atoll
Due to the spike in fuel prices in mid 2008, the government of RMI declared a state of economic emergency. It requested that REP-5 funds be used towards assistance for drafting a national energy policy. Assistance began in November 2008. The project will see the development of a national energy policy, an energy action plan (which includes renewable energy and energy efficiency actions), and donor-ready project documents for the energy action plan. The energy policy and energy action plan have been submitted to government in July 2009, and are expected to be endorsed by Cabinet soon.
The cost of the technical assistance for drafting the energy policy and energy action plan was €100,000.