A major conference on Pacific energy underway in Auckland | Pacific Beat

A major conference on Pacific energy underway in Auckland

A major conference on Pacific energy underway in Auckland

Updated 25 March 2013, 18:17 AEDT

Pacific leaders are in Auckland lobbying for 640 million dollars to help shift their power systems off diesel and on to renewable energy.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully opened the two-day Pacific Energy Summit this morning with a call to arms, saying it was inexcusable that the region had not progressed further along the clean energy path.

The European Union pledged another nearly 70 million Australian dollars for renewable energy projects in the Pacific

New Zealand Correspondent Dominique Schwartz reports.

Presenter: Dominique Schwartz

Speaker: New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully, The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna, President of Kiribati Anote Tong, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, Adnan Amin

SCHWARTZ: Pacific leaders, world financiers, non-government organisations and businesses have converged on Auckland in a bid to change the climate the investment climate and appetite for renewable energy. In his opening address, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully challenged all delegates to work towards fully funding 79 renewable energy projects across the region. Not in the next two years, but the next two days.

McCULLY: in age of constant climate change talks it's inexcusable we have not gone further with renewable energy. Diesel consumes 10 percent of regional gdp and comprises 25 percent of import bill of pacific countries yet it's a problem which can be solved with huge benefits.

SCHWARTZ: The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna explained how reliance on diesel holds Pacific nations to ransom

PUNA:fossil fuel driven systems are subject to erractic shipping, vulnerable to external shocks and conflicts and constrained by national budgets hemmed in by unsustainable subsidies.

SCHWARTZ:But he acknowledged that making the switch from diesel to renewable energy would not be easy.

PUNA : A tug of war is being waged in our region, but like all pacific warriors we do love a fight. The Pacific energy tug of war is such a fight where nations must learn how to pull hard together.

SCHWARTZ: One concrete example of that was signed today - an agreement between the World Bank and Kiribati which will deliver solar energy to the main atoll of Tarawa. The Australian government is providing most of the four million dollars to install solar panels which will provide about 15 percent of the nation's electricity. President Anote Tong hopes it will be just the first step on the road to complete sustainability in energy as has already been achieved in Tokelau. But the benefits go far beyond clean energy. Cheaper, more reliable energy is also the key to lucrative economic opportunities.

ANOTE TONG: we have one of largest fishery resources in world, but we have to process offshore, because we have high energy costs so advice is until lower costs unlikely we process our fish, and the signing of this document this morning, this project will provide us options we had not considered in the past.

SCHWARTZ:About one fifth of the world's energy consumption is from renewable sources and that's growing rapidly according to the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

ADNAN AMIN: hydro electric and geothermal among cheapest baseload in world. Seen dramatic increase in solar and wind investment , because of investment innovation lead to decrease in prices last two years solar pv prices decreased by 65 percent mainly because of chinese manufacturing

SCHWARTZ: Adnan Amin says there is a similar trend in wind technology. All of which makes renewable energy is not just a good idea, but increasingly good business. Which is why he's hopeful that a lot of business can be concluded in Auckland over the course of the summit.

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