CHUEE Helps Improve Energy Efficiency in the Pacific
Turquoise waters lap against the beach with sand as white as snow. Colorful fish swim through the coral reefs. The sun is shining and the sky is bluest of blue. Tropical birds with all the colors of the rainbow are singing and not another soul is in sight. Welcome to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is a picturesque but poor island-nation in the southwest Pacific with a population of around 250,000 people. It is a world away from the bustling megalopolis of Beijing.
Yet, for Zhang Dianjun, senior engineer of IFC’s China Utility-based Energy Efficiency (CHUEE) Finance Program and a Beijing local, some of the business challenges in the Pacific are not unfamiliar: There is significant potential to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy, particularly in the country’s hotels, which are central to Vanuatu’s tourism industry, a pillar of its economy.
Zhang has more than 20 years of experience working in energy-efficiency projects. In August, at the request of IFC’s Sydney office (the contact point for Pacific clients), he visited the island-nations of Vanuatu and Samoa, to share his expertise with several hotels and advise on two other energy-related projects.
He shared with the companies ways to save energy or use renewable energy while improving their profits at the same time. For example, he saw the roof of a hotel in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, and recognized it as a perfect spot for installing solar photovoltaic panels that could harness the strong Pacific sun to generate electricity for the hotel’s use. He also advised a biofuel manufacturer in Vanuatu, Coconut Oil Production Santo Limited, to install a flue-gas heat recovery system to produce steam, which would potentially save the company 200 tons of biofuel and about $130,000 a year.
“When I told Mr. Jeffrey Homal, the company’s manager, about the annual savings he could make by simply implementing a steam-producing recovery system, he gave me a big smile –rarely have I seen someone so happy!” Zhang says.
He says most energy-efficiency projects he has seen in the Pacific make commercial sense and can turn a profit within a year.
“Similar to China seven or eight years ago, companies in the Pacific are generally not aware of the business case for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects,” he says. “But nowhere is climate change more of a reality than in the Pacific. This global problem is causing the sea levels around these beautiful islands to rise and that can greatly affect people’s lives.”
Zhang says IFC can help demonstrate to Pacific businesses how they can save money by investing in sustainable-energy equipment, which will help mitigate the impact of climate change and fulfill the islands’ need for affordable power generated sustainably.
Going forward, the CHUEE program will continue to advise its partners around the globe as it diversifies into new areas such as green buildings and emissions trading scheme pilots.