Vanuatu taps into solar, wind and hydro power

IUCN is helping the island nation of Vanuatu to utilize renewable energy sources to provide modern energy services and improve health and education services in outer island communities.

The weir on Talise River. Photo: Kennedy Kaltavara

Vanuatu is made up of 80 islands with a total land area of 12,190 square kilometres. With many of its islands scattered over a huge area of ocean, access is restricted to boats and airplanes and therefore minimizes infrastructure development. Majority of the country’s population live in rural areas. The escalating prices of imported fuel, has placed considerable burden on government to meet its economic growth goals. Recently the government embarked on the development of an Energy Roadmap that envisions energizing” Vanuatu’s growth and development through the provision of secure, affordable, widely accessible, high quality, clean energy services for an educated, healthy and wealthy nation.”

The renewable energy sources, such as hydro, solar, biomass, wind, coconut bio-fuel and geothermal, available in Vanuatu offer considerable potential to diversify the energy mix and reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. However, challenges exist in making the transition from traditional energy supply sources to the renewable energy sources.

The project has three components: wind monitoring, rehabilitation of solar systems and development of a small-scale run-of-river hydropower.

  1. Wind resource assessment – To achieve this, wind monitoring systems have been installed; one in each of the six provinces.
  2. Solar rehabilitation for schools and health centres - This component covers the upgrading of solar systems in 24 schools and 16 health centres in the following islands: Santo, Malo and Malekula. All works have been completed.
  3. 75 kW community-based small-scale run-of-river hydro power dam – This hydro project when completed will serve three communities with a total population of about 1,300. The project will be managed by the community and a Steering Committee is now in place to provide advice to the communities on the running of the hydro project. IUCN developed an Environment Management and Monitoring Plan for the construction and operation of the hydro project to ensure that all due processes are observed to minimise potential environmental damages and enhance resilient of the biodiversity in surrounding areas, including fresh water fish.

To expand Vanuatu’s energy mix by using renewable energy sources.

The three different components of the Vanuatu project are expected to provide the following benefits to the government of Vanuatu and especially to the communities that are served by the project.

  • The rehabilitation of the solar systems in schools and health centres in Santo, Malo and Malekula will allow these institutions to improve their service delivery to the people in surrounding communities. Schools will be able to use audio visual equipment to improve learning. Health clinics will be able to provide some critical emergency services at night.
  • The solar systems provide a cleaner alternative to the use of expensive imported diesel fuels for lighting.
  • Power harnessed from the river will facilitate the development of micro and medium enterprises in the three communities thus improving their livelihoods. Estimated savings on diesel fuel bill for the communities is USD $5,000 per annum. This translates to a savings of about 118 tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • The wind resource assessment component will provide the government of Vanuatu with wind data that will facilitate decision making in wind energy investments.

Phase I: 2008 – 2012
Phase II: 2013 – 2015


  • Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Austrian Development Cooperation
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