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How Ovalau Will Benefit From US$5 Million Project: A-G

This was possible after the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) successfully secured funding of US$5 million (FJ$10.67m) as an official accredited entity of the Green Climate Fund.
25 Aug 2020 11:33
How Ovalau Will Benefit From US$5 Million Project: A-G
From left: Bureta Development Committee secretary Sereana Qoro, British High Commission Suva, DFID Regional Representative for the Pacific , Jean-Paul Penrose, Fiji Development Bank acting chief executive officer Saiyad Hussain, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Fiji, Shinhee Cho, KOICA director Jinhee Kim and Fiji Development Bank board chair Andre Viljoen on August 24, 2020. Photo: DEPTFO News

Ovalau will soon to home to the first-ever Agro-photovoltaic project funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

This was possible after the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) successfully secured funding of US$5 million (FJ$10.67m) as an official accredited entity of the Green Climate Fund.

While officiating the event, the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, these funds would go towards a new solar and agricultural Project on Ovalau, which has a total value of US$10m (FJ$21.3m).

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said with the Agro-photovoltaic’ project, basically, it means they are co-developing the same land for farming and solar power purposes.

“If you’ve ever seen a solar power plant, you may notice it was built on the same flat, cleared land suited for farming.

“As a result, such parcels of land were often in competition, forcing governments to choose between one sector or the other.

“Do we build energy independence or strengthen food security? The answer wasn’t always obvious.

“But that’s the problem agro-photovoltaic –– or APV –– projects fix. Ovalau will soon to home to the first-ever AVP project funded by the GCF,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said

Stringent process of accreditation

He added that the Green Climate Fund was the single largest source of multilateral climate finance in the world, with a total funding capacity of over US$10.3 billion (FJ$21.96bn).

Back in 2017, the FDB became accredited as a GCF national direct access entity ––the first Pacific development bank to do so–– which opened access to US$10m (FJ$21m) in grant funding per project.

“Direct access to the GCF isn’t granted to every Tom, Dick and Mary. It requires a strenuous and stringent process of accreditation which demands high organisational capacity, a core focus on national development, strong climate credentials, and proven project implementation –– particularly when it comes to grassroots development.

“As part of that accreditation process, the FDB has transformed into a green development bank –– one that implements strict internal social and environmental safeguards.

“Now, those long months of preparation that went into securing the FDB’ s accreditation have paid off for the benefit of everyday Fijians.

“The Fiji APV Project is a history-maker in more ways than one.

“It is the first ever FDB-GCF project, the first-ever APV project approved by GCF.

“The first-ever mitigation centric GCF project for Fiji and one of the first ever private sector climate projects for the Pacific –– with many more hopefully to follow.”

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Battery Energy Storage System

The Fiji APV Project establishes a 4-megawatt solar energy generation facility with a Battery Energy Storage System (‘BESS’) of 5 megawatt hours.

“Tall solar panels will be installed on over seven hectares of agricultural land in Bureta, Ovalau.

“And underneath each panel we will plant resilient, high-value crops for commercial agriculture, like tomatoes, lettuce and capsicum.

“Right now, Ovalau’s nearly 10,000 residents are 100 per cent dependent on diesel generators.

“This project will cut that reliance by more than half, bringing dependence on diesel generators down to 57 per cent –– that’s over 4,500 tonnes of emissions averted.

“And the agricultural component of the project is expected to yield over 100,000 kilograms of crops in a year –– feeding, employing and earning an income for Fijians living in Bureta, and across the island’s 27 communities.

“From a community perspective, this project holds special importance for women and young people who have the chance to learn new farming techniques, creating jobs in our agriculture sector at a time when we badly need those jobs.

“Fijians in these communities, including women, will be trained in solar photovoltaic operation and maintenance, helping them develop one of this century’s most useful skill-sets, given the surging rise in renewables.

“The Fiji APV Project carries huge capacity for scalability across Fiji – an aspect the FDB will back ambitiously.

“Community by community, farm by farm, we can replicate this model, put a serious dent in Fiji’s diesel reliance, build up our food security, and chart a resilient path towards net-zero emissions.”

Bureta Development Committee secretary Sereana Qoro said the villagers of Bureta in Ovalau are looking forward to the project.

“This project is interesting from a community perspective because it serves two objectives at the same time.”

KOICA assistance

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that this project would not have been possible without the strong support of the Korean Government through Korean International Cooperation Agency (‘KOICA’).

“Specifically, KOICA’s grant contribution of US$4m (FJ$8.5m) to purchase the 5-megawatt hour Battery Energy Storage System (‘BESS’) for the solar photovoltaic component of the project.”

Agriculture component

The agriculture component of the project will also be funded by KOICA through a separate project in co-ordination with FDB.

“As part of that soon-to-be-finalised partnership, the Ministry of Agriculture will operate a dedicated climate-centric agriculture research station near the project site.

“On the subject of farming, this project represents an opportunity to make our farmers more than primary producers by making the move into value-added operations.

“Our latest national budget slashed duties on close to 2,000 items, including machinery that can help add serious value within our agricultural sector.

“Our new micro, small and medium business loans will also be targeted towards budding farmers looking to start and expand agro-businesses.

“And in many of Fiji’s staple crop industries, like coconut growing, we’re making the move to value-adding operations, taking advantage of Fiji’s global brand for quality and sustainability. That must continue.

“The crops produced in Fiji’s AVP project –– now and moving forward –– should be value-added crops that reach more customers and build local industry and potentially target the export market.”

New board chair

Meanwhile Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and chief executive officer of Fiji Airways is the new FDB board chair.

Fiji Development Bank board chair Andre Viljoen.

Fiji Development Bank board chair Andre Viljoen.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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