Small Island Developing States (SIDS) share patterns of vulnerability at the hands of the global economy, natural disasters, and supply chain dependency. Exposure to uncontrollable variables puts isolated island populations and coastal communities at greater risk. Associated development challenges are felt by residents, the environment, and the economy. There is attention on SIDS’ needs and challenges from the public and private sectors, but progress is slow and hindered by a number of factors. Transporting materials for project construction can be difficult due to location, and it can be challenging to secure the necessary capital and guarantees to facilitate successful projects.
Despite the many challenges, there are incredible opportunities for renewable energy to bring resilience, affordability, and energy independence to island communities. Island nations are some of the smallest players on the global stage – with comparably tiny peak demands and carbon contributions – but their vulnerability puts them on the front lines of devastating climate consequences. It is critical that we prioritize these island populations and their extraordinary cultures as we step up to combat climate change.
GridMarket is dedicated to supporting islands by opening up access to clean, resilient energy technologies. Our experience has enabled us to identify a number of best-practices that have helped us to better streamline successful energy initiatives for our island partners.
Proven Processes and Targeted Value
While each individual island nation has unique geographic, environmental, and economic conditions, a set of shared characteristics allows us to scale our platform and strategic process in a way that universally accelerates energy transformations. GridMarket’s goal is to accelerate the implementation of affordable, carbon-free, resilient technologies that will harden localized grids against vulnerabilities. By harmonizing national carbon goals, infrastructure realities, and available technical opportunities through a data-driven, digital platform, the GridMarket approach produces tremendous results.
A Nation-Wide Approach
In the past, we have often seen renewable energy projects pop up on islands as pilots or individual installations. These independent projects can provide discrete immediate value, but often end up disrupting centralized grid operations and are not integrated to service the broader needs of the utility and the country. It is essential to consider the impact that decentralized generation will have on an island’s total demand. By working holistically and in planned phases, we can maximize value and balance supply and demand across an entire service territory.
This same level of coordination is also necessary when working with all involved stakeholders. Progress will not be maximized in silos, so it is critical to bring everyone ‘to the table’ when planning a national strategy. This ensures all voices are heard, all concerns can be addressed, and there is opportunity for clear communication and transparency. When GridMarket kicks off a national transformation initiative, a key first step is identifying all the critical stakeholders who will participate and move the project forward, and then initiating an open, collaborative environment that fosters real action and accountability.
Data and Digitization
The work begins prior to opportunity assessment. Many island utilities have data in antiquated forms that must be gathered from varied sources, standardized, and cleaned before it can be used in a meaningful fashion. Investments in digitization are happening, but often will not precede the critical energy infrastructure work needed in the face of rising sea levels and increasingly frequent natural disasters. In order to make the most informed decisions regarding energy plans, island partners must make optimal use of the intelligence that is available. GridMarket’s platform takes global data, localized data, and proprietary algorithms to build and backfill for our analytical models. Valuable intelligence such as topographical data, weather data, property characteristics, utility rates, demand trends, population demographics and more, all contribute to generating the most accurate and optimized energy recommendations.
Scale and Competition
There is an incredible range of solutions, technologies, and partners available in the global market. In order to identify the best partners for each unique opportunity, there is great value in encouraging competition from the broader market. When a single vendor approaches an island government with a solution, that may not be the best fit or produce optimal value alone. The best results come from competition driving economies of scale. GridMarket’s platform hosts a transparent, compliant tender process. RFP processes are tailored to meet government and utility needs, and are securely managed through a digital submission system. By opening up the process and staying technology and partner agnostic, we can solicit a wide array of bids and work with island partners to select the most impactful, cost-effective solutions.
Marrying Available Capital and A Digital Solution – A Case Study in the Kingdom of Tonga
GridMarket secured a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency to complete technical and financial feasibility work for the Kingdom of Tonga in concert with the local utility, Tonga Power Limited (TPL), and the local government, MEIDECC. The grant was formally announced on Earth Day at the Island Resilience Summit at EarthX, the world’s largest environmental forum held in Dallas, TX. USTDA Director, Enoh T. Ebong, GridMarket CEO, Nick Davis, and Ambassador of Tonga to the United States of America, Viliami Va’inga Tone, all represented the partnership for the official announcement. Currently, TPL has achieved ~50% of its renewable energy target. Through this grant-funded development work and GridMarket’s subsequent procurement process, Tonga’s forecasted renewable penetration will exceed 100% of current demand.
The project scope will begin with a complete survey of Tonga’s four main islands through GridMarket’s automated, AI-driven project platform. Each island is powered by its own centralized grid, and the platform will create the framework for identifying the optimal mix of technologies and solutions. The platform will digitally pre-qualify all properties and land parcels for renewable energy potential, then build out a customized module visualizing site-by-site output paired with key elements of the grid and critical infrastructure. The scope will then advance to more detailed technical and financial analysis and market research for those top identified sites, opportunities, and strategies. The team will work to refine preliminary targets and create an optimized mix of energy solutions that will best serve Tongan needs.
Our strategy in Tonga brings together a proven approach, a powerful digital analytical tool, an innovative strategy, and funding from a public entity. By getting to know the realities on the ground in Tonga, we were able to draft a plan and apply our platform and process in a manner uniquely engineered to maximize available value and align with Tongan needs and goals.