THE Green Climate Fund (GCF) has approved funding to support a proposed Asian Development Bank (ADB) programme that will assist seven Pacific island countries to transition to a renewable energy future.

The proposed Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Program will assist Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Tonga, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, and Samoa move away from diesel power generation and towards solar, hydropower, and wind energy.

“The programme offers an excellent opportunity for Pacific islands countries to share experiences and learn from the innovation ongoing in the region,” said Anthony Maxwell, ADB Principal Energy Specialist.

“It will help finance transformation of the power grids in the region.”

The GCF board approved an initial US$12 million grant for Cook Islands to install energy storage systems and support private sector investment in renewable energy.

This investment will see renewable energy generation on the main island of Rarotonga increase from 15% to more than 50% of overall supply.

“The GCF funding will allow Cook Islands to ramp up renewable energy integration onto the grid, and lower the cost of power generation,” said Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister, Cook Islands. “This will have significant benefits to our economy and help achieve the Government’s objectives of a low carbon sustainable economy,”

The GCF Board also approved a US$5 million capacity building and sector reform grant to develop energy plans, build skills, implement tariff and regulatory reforms, and foster greater private sector participation in the energy sector.

The proposed programme is anticipated to  develop feasibility studies through ADB financing that will be proposed to the GCF for renewable energy projects worth over $400 million in the remaining six countries. The programme is expected to support 22 solar power plants, five wind farms, eight hydropower plants, seven energy storage facilities, and 25 renewable energy mini-grids. The investments will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 120,000 ton of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum.

The GCF was created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It has raised more than $10 billion, which it allocates to support low-emission and climate-resilient projects and programmes in developing countries.