Marshall Islands turns to Entura for renewable energy solutions

January 30, 2017

Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura has been engaged by the Asian Development Bank to deliver renewable energy strategic advice and solutions to help the Republic of the Marshall Islands to achieve its renewable energy target.

The Marshall Islands is a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the Philippines. Like many island nations in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands is facing the challenges of climate change, which is the greatest threat to its low-lying atolls and to its people.

As part of its National Energy Action Plan, the country has a target of 20 per cent renewable energy generation by 2020 to reduce its reliance on diesel fuel and foster its transition to clean energy.

“Energy security and self-sufficiency are essential for remote locations such as the Marshall Islands,” said Entura’s Managing Director, Tammy Chu. “Diesel fuel remains the single largest expense to generate power in these remote locations, so using renewable energy makes good economic sense.”

Entura is working closely with The Marshalls Energy Company (MEC) to assist it to meet the nation’s renewable energy target. Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the work has three streams of activity: review of the local power system and preparation of an investment implementation master plan; review of financial management practices and tariff structures; and capacity building.

“We will initially undertake a thorough assessment of the entire power system assets to identify any immediate improvements and efficiency gains and to define pathways to achieving 20 per cent renewable energy penetration into the network,” explained Dusan Nikolic, senior electrical engineer at Entura.

“Once we determine if additional generation or enabling technologies are required, we will assess their feasibility and provide recommendations for implementation.”

Following this phase Entura will review MEC’s financial management systems and practices and its capacity to comply with ADB funding requirements. The audit will also assess cost structures to identify potential efficiency improvements and review tariff structures to recover costs. This will include a poverty impact analysis of proposed changes in the electricity tariff structure to help mitigate impacts of any residential tariff increases on the poor.

The third stream of work, capacity building and institutional strengthening, is a key output of the project. Mr Nikolic said that developing practical training for local operations and maintenance workers to enhance their ability to manage the day-to-day operation of renewable energy systems both now and into the future is fundamental for MEC’s long-term success.

“Our training program will focus on improving the capacity and capability of those responsible for operating and maintaining the assets and those tasked with assessing the viability of potential projects, procurement, and the financial management systems and tariff structures.”

Delivered by the Entura clean energy and water institute, training will include power system modelling, procurement methods and process, and enhanced financial systems.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Entura has developed a world-leading approach to off-grid and fringe-of-grid megawatt-scale development through its experience with hybrid off-grid systems and remote area power systems projects. The firm works with utilities, mining companies and remote communities as an independent advisor or implementation partner across the full lifecycle, from concept development to system operation.