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Samoa's 2025 renewal energy deadline on track

Transitioning Samoa to switch to renewable energy sources by 2025 has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but progress is being made to make the deadline.

Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) graduate engineer, Nicc Moeono, has been working to transition the country to move to clean energy and will make a presentation on hydro energy at the 3rd Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference.

According to Mr. Moeono, thinking about pumped hydro is like thinking about a lithium battery and how its energy can be discharged whenever it is needed.

“Energy in batteries is stored electro-chemically but with pumped hydro it is stored in water in higher elevations,” he said. 

“It’s really pumping water up to a higher elevation so that whenever there is energy needed, there is a supply of water there to generate it.”

In Europe and countries bigger than Samoa, there are large pumped hydro stations. Samoa is looking to reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

“We are already at 50 per cent and while progress has slowed down because of COVID-19, it has not stopped. We are still pushing to meet that target by 2025," said Mr. Moeono.

According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.), the direction that the world is heading in terms of energy storage suits the Pacific, as the EPC has multiple hydro projects underway and in the pipeline. 

The 3rd Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change Conference is a partnership between the Government of Samoa, the S.P.R.E.P., National University of Samoa (N.U.S.), and Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington.

Mr. Moeono moved back to Samoa in 2011 and attended Samoa College for Years 11-13 where he developed an interest in mathematics and science.

Upon graduating from Samoa College, he moved on to the N.U.S. Foundation programme when he received a scholarship to undertake studies in renewable energy at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

“I absolutely loved Science, especially math and physics. During Year 13, I was not really sure what I wanted to do,” he said.

“All I knew is that I wanted to help people, and I knew that Samoa needed engineers and scientists, as well as teachers in science. Through various connections and by talking to people, it became apparent that Samoa, especially E.P.C. needed a renewable energy engineer.”

During his fourth year of undergraduate studies, Mr. Moeono undertook a design project with E.P.C. on pumped hydro to improve electricity supply for the island of Manono. 

Mr. Moeono and his colleague’s project was presented at the engineering design show at his University, where it won the Engineers Social Responsibility Sustainable Project Award.

He graduated from the University of Waikato with a bachelor of engineering with honours in mechanical engineering, and immediately returned to Samoa and joined E.P.C., where he has been working for almost two years.

He will be presenting on Day 2 of the conference on Wednesday 28 October.

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