But 7m islanders still without power
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), recognising that access to modern, affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for sustainable development. The Pacific has much work to do to achieve this goal. Seven million of the region’s 10 million people still do not have electricity. While more than 90% of households in small islands states and more than 80% in Polynesia have access to electricity, it is still below 30% in some of the larger and more populated Melanesian countries.
Moreover, the region continues to rely heavily on fossil fuel which supplies about 95% of its commercial energy needs. Not surprisingly, given the region’s geography, the cost of electricity is among the highest in the world. In addition, total energy losses in some power utilities are as high as 25% and renewable energy opportunities and potential efficiency gains in the transport sector remain generally under-utilised.
For these reasons, at the 2011 Pacific Islands Forum meeting, Pacific leaders reaffirmed their commitment to renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency. They agreed on the value of energy audits and of developing credible whole-of-sector plans such as ‘energy roadmaps’ and structures to improve energy security, reduce dependency on fossil fuel for electricity generation and improve access to electricity.
Leaders also emphasised the importance of effective management of fuel supply risks and meeting energy efficiency targets. The work at the regional level is guided by the Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific, which was endorsed by Pacific Energy Ministers in April 2011. The framework outlines a new approach to improving energy security in the Pacific region.
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