Tonga hosts Regional Energy Centre here in Nuku’alofa

NUKU’ALOFA-April 27: 9.49am (R2R MEDIA): Tonga is the host of the new Pacific Community (SPC) backed Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency office in Nuku’alofa.

The Centre (PCREEE) was jointly opened at the Tanoa Dateline International Hotel on Wednesday afternoon by Prime Minister of Tonga Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Cook Islands’ PM Henry Puna, Tuvalu’s PM Hon Enele Sopoaga and SPC Director General Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

Prime Ministers Hon Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu (left), Hon Akilisi Pohiva of Tonga (middle) and Hon Henry Puna of the Cook Islands (right) at the launch ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: R2R MEDIA

Speaking to Pacific Ministers for Energy and Transport and invited guests at the opening Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said that Tonga is privileged to host PCREEE on behalf of the Pacific.

“This centre of excellence will provide valuable support to Pacific Island countries and territories towards progressing their respective priorities and commitments for achieving sustainable energy,” Hon. Sovaleni said.

The centre has been established with support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), SIDS DOCK and the Government of Austria.

PCREEE now joins a larger partnership directed to implement the SAMOA Pathway, Sustainable Development Goals (particularly SDG 7 and SDG9), the Regional Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific and Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement (SDG 13). The partnership aims to create a network of regional sustainable energy centres for Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) in Africa, Caribbean, the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Mr. Stein Hansen, UNIDO´s Regional Representative, thanked the Government of Tonga for its leadership and highlighted that “the network of regional centers, represents an excellent way to promote SIDS-SIDS cooperation on common energy island issues. The success of economic key sectors such as fishery, agro-business, manufacturing and tourism highly depend on improved access to more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and transport services.”

According to Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), “the centre is an important contribution to accelerate the shift from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy and energy efficiency”.

SPC’s Dr Colin Tukuitonga speaking at the launch. Photo: R2R MEDIA

Highlighting SPC’s 70th Anniversary and its impact in the region, Dr Tukuitonga said  “SPC works for the well-being of Pacific people through the effective and innovative application of science and knowledge”.

“PCREEE serves this mission by acting as innovative hub that brings together technical expertise and knowledge from around the world on matters related to sustainable energy project implementation,” he added.

Dr. Tukuitonga explained that there is still a long way to go as this is one of the most fossil-fuel dependent regions in the world.

“Every year, we import about 800 million to 1 billion USD worth of fuel.  Most of this fuel is used in transportation and in power generation,” he added.

The PACREEE design leverages a network of intra and extra regional partnerships, serving as a “hub” for knowledge and technical expertise on matters related to sustainable energy projects implementation. It will also serve as a facilitator for innovative partnerships with the private sector.

PCREEE will provide a host of support services for the region. Some early initiatives include the development of registries for data, products and training.

The Centre will also support the Pacific Energy Regulators Alliance – a network of regulators that set the rules for the private sector investments and the prices / tariffs they will get in return.

Ministers and delegates at the launch on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: R2R MEDIA

There are also plans to focus on women and energy – a critical gap in the current regional energy programme.

Tonga was selected as the site for PCREEE as a result of a consultative process, and in recognition of the interest and support by the Government of Tonga in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

PCREEE was established in response to a call made by Pacific Ministers of Energy and Transport Ministers in 2014 for strengthened mechanisms that promote private sector involvement in the sustainable development of Pacific Island countries and territories.

The SPC 70th Anniversary coincides with the opening of PCREEE and the Third Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting concluding in Nuku’alofa on Friday 28 April.

 

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