$4.2m daily bill

FIJI sends $4.2million a day out of the country to pay for fuel, says Geothermal Electric CEO, Tim Daniel.

And according to him, that was enough for a new rural school to be built or enough to employ 60 schoolteachers for a year.

“In a fortnight we spend $58m on fuel, enough for a new hospital or to employ 120 specialist doctors for a year,” Mr Daniel said.

He said this was urgent and something had to be done as it affected everyone.

“The first step to addressing any problem is to understand it. And then formulate a strategy to address it.”

He said he was encouraged by the Fijian Government’s actions to change the face of the nation by focusing on cutting the country’s fuel import bill.

Mr Daniel said their analysts had been looking at the growing fuel import bill for the nation with alarm for some years.

“We have watched it grow from about 30 per cent of the value of our domestic exports in 2000 to 23 per cent more than we earn from our exports in 2014.”

He acknowledged the Minister for Infrastructure, Pio Tikoduadua, and his team at the Department of Energy that were on to it: proposing ways of moving forward and getting rid of the market failures that were stopping investment into renewables that displace diesel.

He believed geothermal, which uses the heat from the ground to make low cost, renewable and clean energy 24/7, could form the backbone of Fiji’s electricity sector in combination with hydro — such as efforts in Iceland and Costa Rica.

But any renewable energy that displaces diesel was important, he said.

“If fuel imports keep growing the way they are, within five years our fuel bill will cost us as much as three new schools each day or a new hospital every five days.

“Cutting our fuel bill is the greatest single economic challenge our nation faces and we need to move on it now,” he said.

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