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Vanuatu is a nation of the South Pacific Ocean comprising about 80 islands of varying sizes, scattered over a distance of 1.300 km and adding up to about 12.000 km². Located on the border of the Indian-Australian and the Pacific Plate, many islands are of (active) volcanic origin shaping a mountainous terrain with a narrow, 2.500 km long shoreline in total and surrounded by lush coral reefs. [1] Next to small-scale agriculture, tourism and fishery are the main pillars of Vanuatu’s economy which is, subsequently, very vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change risks such as seas level rise. [1][2]

Despite deforestation, the islands are covered to a substantial amount with jungle and agricultural land (51,9%). The population of 280.000 inhabitants (2017 estimates) is spread in the concentrated urban areas of the capital city Port-Vila, Lugenville and three islands while 75% live in rural areas, distributed over 62 more islands. About 20% of urban dwellers and 83% of rural residents lack access to electricity, indicating a major split between urban and rural living conditions. [2]

These specific circumstances led the young nation of Vanuatu (founded in 1980, demographic median of age about 22 years [1]) to be a frontrunner of climate action by initiating the Ministry of Climate Change in 2013 [3] and creating the National Energy Road Map (NERM) for 2013 to 2020 by following examples of similar countries with technical assistance of the World Bank. [4] The road map has been updated prematurely to NERM 2016 to 2030 after Vanuatu was hit by the Hurricane Pam in 2015, whose damages in infrastructure hamper tourism to this day, maintaining a sense of urgency for climate action.

While the vision of “energized […] growth and development through the provision of secure, affordable, widely accessible, high quality, clean energy services” [2] remains, the new road map elaborates on the pivotal role of renewable energy balanced with energy efficiency and introduces the economic opportunity of green growth. It formulates the five key priorities of the energy sector as access through grid extension and micro-grids, petroleum supply for transport, affordability, energy security and climate change mitigation. [2]

The pillars for implementation of the NERM are committed governmental leadership, empowered and accountable energy institutions and a sector-wide approach following the principle “Many Partners, One Team, One Plan”: An established Green Energy fund is mandated to foster energy projects, the national private sector is actively engaged and several international investors fuel energy projects. [2]

As a result, the renewable potential of geothermal hotspots, hydropower and solar energy is deployed by partners of Australia, Austria, Italy and the European Union, to name a few. Additionally, noteworthy implemented projects of national effort are the wind park of Devil’s Point covering around 7% of the capital island’s energy demand and the production of biofuel: Coconut oil. [5]

NERM acknowledges the requirement of balancing technical, economic, regional/equity and financial considerations as well as enabling policies and capacity building. [2] By spreading investment over various provinces the country acknowledges the challenge of decentralization and utilizes it as an opportunity.

Read further:

[1] World Factbook of the CIA

[2] Governmental Download of the National Energy Road Map (pdf)

[3] Vanuatu Daily Post on Green Energy, July 05, 2017

[4] Vanuatu Daily Post on Launch of NERM, Oct. 19, 2016

[5] IRENA publication on Vanuatu

General Details

Timeline: 2030
Contact: Minister of Climate Change, Ham Lini Vanuaroroa (2016)
More information: Click

Status Quo

Total energy consumption:
51.15 million kWh (2015 est.) [1]
Percentage of RE in the total energy consumption:
29% (as of end of 2015 or based on latest available data) [2]
Value of all economic activities (GDP or equivalent ):
$740 million (2016 est.) [1]

Project Features

Scope of engagement
yes Supraregional/national
Quality of the objectives
yes Intermediate objectives
Binding effect of the objectives
No information
Energy savings objective
yes Energy Efficiency Target