The Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project II (VREP II), which will be co-funded by the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Programme and the New Zealand government, aims to private nearly 9,000 homes and 37 public buildings – including community halls – with access to renewable energy.
This project is the second phase of the Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project. It will partially subsidise the cost of solar home systems and micro-grid systems for 8,400 households in dispersed areas of the Pacific island nation, while contributing to the construction of five mini grid systems in larger communities, benefitting an additional 550 households. All systems will have the capability to reliably meet the energy needs of most households and businesses, including powering refrigerators, lights and office equipment.
“The government of Vanuatu is working hard with the support of the World Bank to deliver affordable, reliable and renewable energy to 100 percent of the population by 2030,” said Ham Lini Vanuarora, Vanuatu Minister for Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management. “Energy is crucial to our nation’s continued development – boosting economic opportunities, allowing access to essential communications and information technology, and improving health services and education delivery, including in rural areas.”
Currently, only 20 percent of Vanuatu’s rural residents have access to electricity, which has been identified by the government as a key social and economic priority. Providing affordable electricity supports the government’s goals toward a more diversified economy and more equitable social and economic development throughout the nation.
“I am encouraged by the leadership that countries like Vanuatu are demonstrating and very proud that the CIF is a key partner in supporting them to achieve the vision and goals that they have set for themselves,” said Mafalda Duarte, Head of the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds. “This project contributes to the transformation of rural electrification in Vanuatu by catalysing demand, including in remote areas, and promoting the service industry for renewable energy products.”
“Making it cheaper and easier for people and communities to have electricity opens up opportunities and choices for Ni-Vanuatu living in rural areas,” said New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu Georgina Roberts. “This project will help people connect to each other, services and information, so they can sustain their families and contribute to their communities, as well as the national development.”
The project marks a decade of World Bank support to the Vanuatu government in the energy sector, beginning with regulatory reform in 2007. The World Bank also provided support to the government as it developed the Vanuatu National Energy Road Map, the key document outlining the path for Vanuatu to achieve its goal of universal energy access by 2030.
The approval of VREP II will raise to US$40 million the total investment under World Bank-supported projects in Vanuatu’s energy sector. This new project will complement three other World Bank-supported projects already underway, which are focused on subsidising connections for low-income households in urban areas, providing small household solar systems in rural areas, and improving overall energy sector regulation and institutional arrangements.
“Access to electricity is a crucial part of building safer homes and communities, and creating new economic opportunities,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for the World Bank in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “This project will deliver real benefits for people living in rural Vanuatu, and we are proud to be supporting the government of Vanuatu to help achieve 100 percent renewable access by 2030.”
VREP II will be financed through a US$2 million credit and US$2 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries; a grant of US$6.77 million from the Climate Investment Funds’ Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program; and US$3.4 million from the New Zealand government through the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility
Photo file: Port Vila