A small village on the West Coast of Malekula – Vinmavis, will be the recipient of a Community Scale Photovoltaic (PV) solar system with an electric capacity of 4950 Watts and worth VT2.6 million.
Approximately 5000watts of energy is able to turn on light bulbs, charge laptops, mobile phones, keep a deep freeze running on full power and even a hair dryer for the Vinmavis mamas.
According to Project Manager of the Barrier Removal for Achieving the National Energy Road Map Targets of Vanuatu (BRANTV), Doreen Leona, which the Vinmavis Village falls under, the littoral village produced virgin coconut oil and this served as a marker for self-sustainability.
Ms Leona explained: “The site was selected by the Technical Working Group. The economic activity in the community is basically agriculture and trade. Families of Vinmavis Community produces coconut virgin oil to earn money.
“The community was selected from the proposal submitted by the Agriculture and Trade departments based on their economic strength.”
Vinmavis is not the only village to be selected in Malekula for UNDP assistance, Lawa village South-West of the island have been identified to receive Pico-Hydro power mini-grids, all part of the nationwide goal of domestic electrification.
“BRANTV project is part of achieving National Electrification Roadmap Targets (NERM) to achieve 100% target of electrifying rural communities by 2030. Vinmavis is part of achieving this national target.”
The Project Manager of BRANTV under the Department of Energy stated that each project that they focus on, conventional Solar Systems are not provided for the villages, however, assessments are conducted to reveal how many villagers have laptops, mobile phones and other electronic devices, with this data the Solar System and Wattage capacity is designed to cater for the village.
Along with the solar panels, the Department of Energy will also provide will also contribute to the economic drive within the village by supporting the virgin oil making process, “Two coconut grinders to be supplied by the project” and “Power point for deep freezer to be supplied by the project.”
Vinmavis villager, Neil Netaf mentioned that a light bulb hasn’t been switched on in the village even before independence, and this electrification project is a godsend for his people.
The funding of the project is through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and administered by the Department of Energy under the Ministry of Climate Change.