Samoa halfway to meeting energy target

Samoa is halfway to meeting its goal of 100 percent renewable energy use by 2025 with solar and hydro renewable energies currently supplying about 50 percent, says the Electric Power Corporation Project Manager. 

Fonoti Perelini Perelini said they will continue to work to achieve the 100 percent renewable energy goal even if they don’t reach the target by 2025. 

“We can reach the other 50 percent. We have projects in the pipeline right now that can help us reach 50 percent.  We have solar, wind and some additional hydro, and the big one is the geothermal in Savaii,” Fonoti said. 

“Samoa currently has nine hydro plants and E.P.C. is looking to build four more as it is the excellent renewable energy source for Samoa, he added. 

“Samoa is dependent on hydro; we’ve just about harnessed all the hydro potential. There’s one hydro in Savaii that we would love to start and that’s Sili, it will generate like 10 million units of electricity a year.

“We are building a dam in Alawa and we will build a hydro associated with that, we will generate some electricity from there. 

“We will not get a 100 percent from hydro because right now it is 35 percent and 15 percent from solar, so the most from hydro is probably 45-50 percent and then we have to make up the rest from the other two.” 

Fonoti said geothermal is also another option in Savaii and their investigations will determine its potential. 

“If we do the geothermal investigation and find there’s a lot of potential than we can attract the company to fund and build the submarine cable as Savaii does not need all that power so we need to transmit it here, so it’s the plan to put the submarine cable from Salelologa to Mulifanua.

“Because right now if we had the cable we would be feeding Savaii from here, but we don’t have it so that’s very important.” 

Fonoti said they will still maintain diesel as backup as the renewables are weather related. 

“Even though we are replacing diesel, we will continue to build up our diesel capacity to ensure a security of supply, we will not throw it away that will be too risky for us. 

“That’s why we built Fiaga first but we’ve now reached the point where we need to add another generator at Fiaga because the demand right now is 25 megawatts but Fiaga is only 23 megawatts, so in other words, if there’s no renewable, Fiaga can’t feed that.

“And the load growth is growing like 4.5 percent and it’s very fast because people use it, if the price of electricity is low then people can afford to buy a lot of appliances for their homes.”  

Currently electricity is sold at 70 sene and with the 100 percent renewable energy target; cost of electricity will decrease further. 

Fonoti hopes the cost of technology decreases to facilitate the country’s renewable energy target. 

“The batteries are still high that’s why it’s restricting a lot of Pacific Islands because they can’t afford it (batteries is to store energy in the day so that it could be used in the night).” 

He said their advanced technology allows them to record reliable data but it’s the collecting and reviewing that’s the challenge. 

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