As the conversation around climate change expands, more countries have begun the transition to sustainable sources of energy. After years of dependence on non-renewable energy, the small island nation of Palau in the Pacific Ocean is looking to upgrade its electrical grid to rely entirely on renewable energy, wth a helping hand from analytics company Gridmarket.
Over the course of the next year and a half, Palau will convert its entire electrical grid to rely 100 percent on renewable energy. Although the process would normally be costly and require significant resources, it is going to cost the government close to nothing to shift Palau’s electrical grid to renewables.
In partnership with analytics’ company Gridmarket, Palau will receive a complete overhaul of its energy system – without spending a dime of taxpayers’ money. At last year’s environmental tech summit EarthX, following Hurricane Sandy, Palau’s president and the CEO of Gridmarket met and came up with a plan to make the island nation greener.
The idea behind the partnership is to create a mapping system that uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to create profiles for each property in Palau. The AI system looks at data like climate, weather, energy costs, and local laws to produce data needed to shift Palau’s electrical grid. The country’s national plan includes introducing clean energy, including battery storage, and microgrids at government buildings and schools, as well as larger 20-30 megawatt systems that can feed into the local grid.
The island nation’s population of a little over 20,000 people currently rely on diesel to power 90 percent of their electrical needs. Diesel-powered electricity costs residents $0.24 per kilowatt-per-hour despite the country’s minimum wage standing at $5,000 a year. Out of the country’s total GDP of $272 million, Palau spends approximately 12 percent on fuel and related imports, according to the national plan.
Gridmarket’s project will fast-track the shift to renewable energy in Palau. Under normal circumstances, a single 30 megawatt project could take anywhere between three to four years to complete. Gridmarket claims that, with the aid of their AI system, the process might take as little as three to six months, with the ultimate goal being 24-hour installation.
The first phase of the project will see Palau derive 45 percent of its energy needs from renewables. The second phase of the project, which is slated for completion in 2019, will see Palau derive its electrical needs entirely from renewables.
Trammell Crow, the founder of EarthX and a Republican philanthropist committed to fighting climate change, has pledged to find funding for the project that will pay for the work Gridmarket will do. He will also buy necessary equipment.
To export the model elsewhere, Palau, EarthX, Gridmarket, and the Global Island Partnership formed the Island Resilience Partnership to help other island nations shift towards sustainable and affordable energy.
Palau joins a number of other countries that, in light of rising energy costs and environmental precautions, have announced their intent to shift towards renewable energy. Earlier this year, Indian state of Tamil Nadu rolled out a renewable energy scheme. Last month, Togo announced Project CIZO, a project that will integrate solar energy into the African nation’s electrical grid, in many cases providing energy to regions that previously did not have it.