Electric mobility vital for Samoa: Energy expert

Electric mobility plays an important role in moving towards a fossil fuel-free road and sea transport sector, says Flavia Luamanuvae Vaai.

A recent graduate in sustainable energy from The University of Queensland, Ms. Vaai said Samoa’s transport system is 100 per cent supplied by fossil fuel with 64 percent consumed by the transport sector (land, sea and air), therefore making the sector the largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

“The continued annual growth of petroleum products by 4 per cent is predicted across the market sector for the period of 2016-2021,” she said.

“The transport sector is the largest emitter of CO₂ accounting for 27 per cent of Samoa’s greenhouse gas emission. 

“As a result [it is] a major concern for the environment and particularly for small island countries facing the impact of climate change.”

The information on Samoa’s carbon footprint is drawn from her thesis dissertation for The University of Queensland.

Ms Lumanuvae Vaai did an analysis of the suitability of electric land and sea fleets and provided ideas for alternative modes of transport to reduce Samoa’s dependency on fossil fuels.

“The thesis aim was conducting an analysis of the feasibility or suitability of electric land and sea fleets for Samoa and investigating the role of alternative modes of transport in the overall cost reduction of Samoa’s national transport,” she added. “A sustainable transport system will support Samoa’s growing economy [and] reduce emissions and reliance on imported fossil fuel for an energy secure Samoa.”

Electric mobility – that is electric fleets or vehicles for both land and sea – are promising options for Samoa, Ms Luamanuvae Vaai added.

“Electric mobility plays an important role in moving towards a fossil fuel free road and sea transport sector. 

“It is an option that is promising to mitigate the adverse effects of environmental problems and climate change from transport.

“Globally 7.2 million electric vehicles have been in full operation as of 2019 and countries are moving towards this trend. 

“As a developing country, whose economy is crippled by the increasing cost of fuel and impacted by climate change, looking at other alternatives for sustainable transport is vital.”

The energy industry, which Ms Luamanuvae Vaai has entered, is male-dominated and according to her is one of the least diverse sectors globally.

“I believe that women are key drivers of innovative and inclusive solutions which is important in the energy sector as it still remains one of the least gender diverse sectors globally,” she said.

“My advice to young women nothing should stop you from reaching those goals.”

The Electric Power Corporation (EPC) will import 10 electric cars, comprising five sports utility vehicles and five vans as part of a Government-run pilot project, promoting renewable energy to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The initiative is part of the Government’s response to climate change, the E.P.C. General Manager, Faumui Tauiliili Iese Toimoana, said recently.

The E.P.C. has started the tender process for the importation of the electric cars which are due next month, he said, with a few companies having shown interest.

In November the E.P.C. invited interested bidders to supply charging stations for electric vehicles as the Government seeks to move the country toward a zero-emissions economy.

Ms Lumanuvae Vaai – who is in her early 30s and is from Salelologa, Savai'i – began her master’s degree in July 2019 and graduated from The University of Queensland on Thursday.

She did her primary school at the St. Mary’s Primary School and is a graduate of the St. Mary’s College. 

Studying Foundation Year at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.), she went on to do a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Studies (majoring in management with a minor in economics) from The University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 2008.

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