The future of Samoa’s electricity system could turn green, as a study by the University of Otago shows.
The states of the Pacific Islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change and face high costs and energy security problems from imported fossil fuels.
For these reasons, many Pacific island states have set ambitious targets for 100 percent renewable energies. However, they have not been rigorously peer-reviewed to develop these goals and ways to achieve them in the same way as more developed countries.
To meet this need, Tupuivao Vaiaso, an Otago Masters Degree in Energy and Technology, sketched future scenarios for Samoa’s electricity system by carefully weighing renewable supply and electricity demand.
The study published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews shows that a high proportion (over 90 percent) of renewable energy in connection with battery or pumped storage is technically and economically feasible – it would cost far less than current electricity production.
A special combination of properties makes this possible: large solar resources with very low seasonal fluctuations; low fluctuations in demand due to constant seasonal conditions; and high electricity prices due to current diesel consumption.
However, the results also show that there is a significant trade-off between the share of renewable energy and affordability. To counter this, according to Vaiaso, targets should be set just under 100 percent for it to be economically attractive, and / or biomass options (like the recent biomass gasifier) could potentially be considered for the last few percent.
Co-author, Associate Professor Michael Jack, director of the Energy Management Program at the Department of Physics, says the study shows an affordable way to meet the renewable energy goals, which is important because of reducing emissions in some way must be achieved that does not increase the energy shortage. .
“These results have important implications for Samoa’s energy policy and can be directly transferred to many other countries in the Pacific,” he says.
He believes the study also suggests Pacific island nations are an important option in the growing trend of international sustainable funding.
“The high price of electricity means that renewable options are far more economically attractive than many other countries. These are essentially low-hanging fruits that offer several advantages and, in my opinion, would be attractive to these financiers.”
* Mr. Vaiaso thanks the New Zealand Aid Program and the National University of Samoa for financial support for his MSc studies.
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