MARSHALLS TO GET $5.9 MILLION SOLAR POWER

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Japan-funded system to tie into Majuro grid

By Giff Johnson MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Dec. 23, 2009) – Japan will provide $5.9 million for the first-ever grid-connected solar system in the Marshall Islands’ capital of Majuro.

Agreements were reached Friday in Majuro by acting Foreign Minister Amenta Matthew and Japanese Embassy Charge d’Affaires Kazuyuki Ohdaira for the project which is expected to begin development in 2011.

Part of Japan’s climate change response program known as "Cool Earth Partnership." The aim of the solar grant is to reduce Majuro’s dependence on diesel-powered electricity, said Ohdaira.

Two agreements were signed by government officials endorsing the plan: an exchange of monies and a grant agreement between the governments of Japan and the Marshall Islands for a ¥530 million yen, or $5.9 million, "Clean Energy by Solar Electricity Generation System" project.

A large array of solar panels will be placed on the roof of Majuro Hospital to feed electricity into the existing power generation system in the capital, which has a population of about 30,000. The solar system is expected to generate about 200 kilowatts of power, about two percent of Majuro’s current peak electricity usage, which is now supplied by diesel-powered generators.

Japan officials confirmed that the grant for the Marshall Islands is part of a four-nation, $20 million project in the Pacific that will provide similar solar power to the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Tonga.

The Marshall Islands had requested the solar project provide one megawatt of power — about 10 percent of Majuro electricity usage — but funding limitations and the need to include funding for the training of maintenance workers reduced the amount of solar equipment to be provided under the project, according to the Japanese Embassy’s Noboaki Yamada.

Finances for supplying the equipment will be issued early in 2010, with installation proceeding in early 2011.

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