Cheaper power options for Pacific nations studied
27 May 2013
A UC Pacific Studies researcher is investigating project management issues relating to development projects that provide cheaper power options for Pacific island nations.
A University of Canterbury researcher is investigating project management issues relating to development projects that provide cheaper power options for Pacific island nations.
Currently countries in the South Pacific rely heavily on diesel generators as their main source of power.
The generators are very expensive, unsustainable, bad for the environment and noisy, and many businesses, schools and households cannot afford power.
At the recent Pacific Energy Summit, New Zealand pledged $65 million to renewable energy projects in the South Pacific.
UC PhD Pacific Studies researcher Emily Laing is looking at solar power projects in the region with the aim of identifying key project management issues.
"I hope to create a framework that will assist donors and recipient nations and alleviate as many problems as possible so that negative impacts are minimised and resources are maximised for donor organisations and the respective recipient island nations.
"I have been part of previous UC volunteer groups that have installed solar power in five Tongan high schools."
These systems were installed with a goal of reducing and, in some cases, completely eliminating power costs for the schools which previously, were struggling to keep up with their bills. The project was one of many funded by the New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund.
"With the introduction of solar energy in the Pacific islands it is important each project is well planned to ensure it is sustainable long term for the recipient country," Laing says.
The introduction of solar power in the South Pacific is reasonably recent and is predominantly funded through aid organisations. There is a growing need for research devoted to the management and coordination of these projects.
Many smaller islands in the Pacific, such as Tonga, rely almost entirely on aid and have barely any business enterprise or exports so most of the solar installations are funded by various international aid agencies.
"This means the recipient country has little control over the timing, scale and scope of the projects which can cause issues when it comes to implementing and sustaining the systems. Regulations vary in different countries. It can be challenging for the recipient country when it comes to coordinating projects.
"I will be researching project management techniques from different countries to try to find solutions. I want to create a project management framework specific to solar installations in the South Pacific to guide and help the management of future projects.
"The goal is to make this management framework an applicable and helpful tool for other developing nations looking to go solar," Laing says.
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