• Editorial

Decentralized solar-powered hydrogen production brings independence

Palau. Like many other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Palau is heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels. Renewable energy generation accounts for only 4.03 percent of the country's total power sector share. The IRENA Renewable Energy Roadmap 2022-2050 [1]outlines an ambitious, yet achievable scenario that would allow the country's share of renewable energy to rise to 92.1 percent. The study also demonstrates that Palau can achieve 100 percent renewable energy by investigating green hydrogen production from solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind.

A renewable energy-based energy system not only helps Palau meet its climate goals, but it also improves the lives of local communities.

The example of the energy transition in Palau shows that renewable energy not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also leads to individual profits, even if the investment and installation costs are initially high. Kyle Ongesii a proud owner of an off-grid solar system in Aimeliik State is happy to have an independent power connection that is not connected to the local grid. He has significantly reduced his household costs, and power outages no longer bother him. The fact that he can supply his neighbors with his own electricity also makes him proud and elevated above everyone else. It puts him in a progressive position vis-à-vis the others, allowing him to live an independent and more sustainable life but also to educate and inform friends and family about the profits of renewable energy. A school in Palau is also benefiting of the use of renewable energy. Delphina Sumor, the head teacher at “Pulo Anna”- elementary school, said, “thanks to the solar power; we can turn on electric fans when the days are hot, and turn on the lights in the classroom when it is dark outside because of the rain. We have also enhanced our learning experience. With the stable electricity, students can use digital devices to perform classroom activities, while teachers can use their laptops and projectors to support instructional delivery. But the most exciting of all for the students and the wider community, is the electricity allows us to have movie nights on weekends,” she added.

These advantages are obvious in addition to reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as lower electricity costs. More renewable energy deployment can help Palau meet its climate goals. To achieve the energy goals outlined in its climate policy, the country has created an energy action plan. However, due to its low per capita income, the country requires international financial and technical assistance to fully implement renewable projects.

According to the Roadmap, an initial investment of approximately USD 126 million is required to support the scaling up of solar PV, wind, and battery capacity required to achieve a 92 percent share for renewables. It also identifies an appropriate mix of financing mechanisms, such as grants, soft loans, and de-risked investments by independent power producers, to assist Palau in decarbonizing its power sector and mitigating the negative effects of climate change. Often, achieving goals such as reducing greenhouse emissions by eliminating fossil fuels and transitioning to sustainable energy is intangible to many people and not a reason to change one's personal behavior. If it comes however then to individual improvements in the own life, one suddenly independently of the state electricity can refer, while the neighbors sit in the dark. or one at the end of the year notices that one must pay much less than before, then that already affects the decision to contribute to the change or not. if one in this thinking also still its friends and family to influence can and more and more people over the effectiveness to clear up, then that leads not only to a personal economic plus but does also still the soul well. More information: https://www.irena.org/newsroom/articles/2022/Jun/Renewable-Based-Pathway-Key-to-Palaus-Welfare

[1] https://www.irena.org/publications/2022/Jun/Republic-of-Palau-Renewable-Energy-Roadmap