The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $6 million grant and the Government of Vanuatu $1.2 million to establish a network to deliver renewable energy to the people of Malekula and Santo.

The ADB-supported Vanuatu Energy Access Project will help construct a 400-kilowatt Brenwe hydropower plant and extend the two islands’ electricity grids to deliver sustainable, affordable power to residents and businesses.

Minister of Finance Johnny Koanapo Rasou puts pen to paper for the additional funding

The additional funding, signed yesterday by Vanuatu Minister of Finance and Economic Management Johnny Koanapo Rasou and ADB Vanuatu Pacific Country Office Unit Head and Senior Infrastructure Specialist David Fay, will be used to upgrade power distribution networks from a single wire to a three-phase system. This will prevent the need for future upgrades when demand increases and will deliver safer power due to an improved fault detection mechanism.

The project began in 2017 with $15.1 funding from ADB, the Strategic Climate Fund, and the Government of Vanuatu.

“The delivery of sustainable, affordable power provides exciting opportunities to improve the lives of people in these communities,” said Mr. Fay. “The upgrade will accommodate the demand of larger commercial and industrial facilities on the main grid and provide greater renewable electricity penetration to contribute to the economic development of Vanuatu.”

“This project will allow us to produce clean, reliable, low-cost power to more people, many of whom do not presently have access to the main grid. The government wants to see the shift from polluting energy sources to clean, locally produced renewable energy which again contributes to keeping our air and water clean. New renewable systems will also contribute to our economy by creating good jobs and new careers,” said Mr. Koanapo.

The construction of 79 kilometers of new distribution lines will allow cheaper power to reach 1,050 new households, increasing grid access in Espiritu Santo from 22% to 29% and in Malekula from 8% to 14%.

The Brenwe hydropower plant, which is also part of the project, is on track for commissioning in April 2022. Once operational, it will deliver up to 90% of the Malekula grid’s needs, saving more than 200,000 liters of diesel per year and reducing Vanuatu’s dependence on imported fossil fuel.