Work in progress for low cost renewable energy in small island States

Amidst discussions yesterday on the benefits of private-public partnerships among SAMOA Pathway member States, two young men have a model they believe in.

Matt Tranchin and Marty Martinez are the executive director and director of partnerships of the Island Resilience Partnerships, and they are working to shift small islands States to renewable energy at no cost to the governments. 

How? Through GridMarket: an innovative platform connecting energy providers’ with consumers at the lowest rate possible and with the gentlest impact on the environment.

Its works, said Mr. Tranchin, and he has experience in Palau to prove it.

At Earth X in April 2017, the president of Palau, Thomas Remengesau, told Mr. Tranchin he wanted to reduce Palau’s reliance on expensive imported diesel, powering 97 percent of the nation’s energy use.

“So three months later, there was a summit with all the stakeholders and we began to get Palau’s renewable energy up from 3 percent to 50 percent in the next 12 months,” he said.

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GridMarket works by connecting the utilities (power, water) with solution providers by having them compete with each other to drive down prices and ultimately serve the consumers with the cheapest possible product.

In Palau’s case, 40 companies bid to produce power for the island nation of 17,000 people, and out of the final four selected at the final stage, the company eventually chosen has reduced the price of power by 30 percent.

They have the capital to invest in the infrastructure and energy product, and enough other interests to justify losing money for a while, Mr. Tranchin explained.

 “And it’s still for profit.”

With a 30-year contract signed between them, the company will finally start to break even on their investment by the 15th year – something a Government can hardly afford to do by itself.

The technical advice and development component of GridMarket’s work is funded by philanthropists, again taking the burden of cost away from Small Island Developing States.

“We haven’t yet come across a nation we couldn’t do this with,” Mr. Tranchin said.

“We’ll be prioritising the ones with the political will to invest in this.”

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