Regional Solar Initiative Highlights Pacific Leaders Commitment to Climate Action

June 18, 2024

UNDP, Indian High Commission in Fiji and Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) representatives with His Excellency, the President of Fiji Ratu Wiliame Katonivere during the launch last year.


Suva, Fiji - Pacific Islands continue to lead by example as the “Solarization of Residences of Pacific Heads of State Project'' comes to a close following the successful installation of solar panels on public buildings across the region. 

The buildings benefitting from the initiative are:

Federated States of MicronesiaPresident’s residence
  • Official Residence of the President
  • Official Residence of Prime Minister
  • Chiefly Island of Bau- Ulunivuaka Community Hall and the Residence of Ratu Epenisa Cakobau 
KiribatiState House Kiribati
NauruDialysis Center
PalauOffice of the Vice President
Republic of Marshall IslandsOffice of the President
Solomon IslandsGovernor General Official Residence
TuvaluGovernor General Official Residence
TongaNational Women Council
VanuatuGovernor General Residence


This US$1.3 million programme was funded by the Government of India with support from the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSCC) and nonprofit Solar Head of State (SOHS).

Since the launch of the inaugural pilot project in Fiji in February 2023, the UNDP, PIDF and their partners have carried out initiatives across the region in the Federated State of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The project trained local staff, laborers, and volunteers, who assisted with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the solar panels.

Every aspect of the project has been created to empower local communities by providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in their communities.

An inclusive initiative meant to develop inter/intra-regional cooperation between Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, PIDF, UNOSCC, and UNDP are committed to fostering multi-stakeholder engagements across the Pacific. The photovoltaic units were donated by manufacturer Solaria through a public-private partnership to highlight the benefits of solar energy and the development of green jobs.

A statement from the High Commission of India in Fiji said, “Climate Change cannot be fought from Conference table. It needs concrete action. The Government of India is pleased to support the Solarization of Residence of Pacific Heads of State project to help accelerate the transition to clean energy. As part of our efforts to promote clean and renewable energy in the Pacific region, the Government of India has also funded Solarization of 2,800 residences across 14 Pacific Island Countries.”

Resident Representative for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Ms Munkhtuya Altangerel said, "The Solarization of Residences of Pacific Heads of State Project exemplifies the commitment of Pacific Island nations to sustainable development and climate action. Through partnerships and community empowerment, we have not only installed solar panels but also built capacity and resilience in local communities. This initiative sets a precedent for interregional cooperation and paves the way for a renewable energy future in the Pacific and beyond.”

Pacific Island countries face multiple energy challenges, including:

  • Limited range of indigenous energy resources;
  • High cost of developing energy resources and extending service to remote populations; 
  • Poor quality of energy data and trends; 
  • A small base of skilled people to address the issues; and
  • Weak bargaining positions with petroleum suppliers.

Part of the solarization project were the instalments of solar panels at the Fiji State House (pictured), the official residence of the Prime Minister and on the Chiefly Island of Bau.


National governments across the region have set ambitious targets for reducing their CO2 emissions by 2030 and transitioning to nearly 100 percent renewable energy sources. Solar energy is particularly attractive due to its cost-effectiveness, with technology costs having decreased by 80 percent over the past decade and less operation and maintenance. While the annual reduction of approximately 450 tons of CO2 from the installation of 240 kW rooftop solar systems on these 12 buildings may not be substantial, it carries significant policy implications for promoting rooftop solar throughout the region.

Electricity production accounts for roughly 40 percent of petroleum fuel use in the Pacific region. High fossil fuel costs can hamper countries and remote communities, limiting their ability to electrify the region and maintain stable energy supply. Transitioning to readily available renewable energy like solar will help reduce costs and provide energy for local communities, while also providing green jobs, encouraging sustainable development and combating climate change.

James Ellsmoor, Chairman of Solar Head of State and CEO of Island Innovation commented: “The solarization taking place in the Pacific highlights how impactful renewable energy implementation can be for island communities. Being able to demonstrate the benefits of solar and empowering local stakeholders through associated training programmes enables them to more effectively identify development opportunities in their communities - this is where the long-term value of this project lies. Supporting capacity and resilience-building in the Pacific is key. Policymaking and technology are obviously key, but investing in people is critical.”

Background of the Project 

Partnerships play an essential role in the Solarisation of Head of State Residences in PIDF member countries project. Multiple organizations based in different countries and regions of the world are involved, including from the public sector, private sector and civil society: i) in the PICs, partners include the offices of the head of state/buildings of national importance, power utilities and private companies; ii) at the regional level, partners include PIDF and UNDP; and, iii) at the international level, partners include the international NGO Solar Head of State, the Government of India, and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). The multiple partners are also reflected in the funding of this project. The government of India has provided US$400,000 via the India-UN Development Partnership Fund and US$700,000 via the India-UN Development Partnership Fund Commonwealth Window. Likewise, UNDP has contributed US$51,000 and technical assistance throughout the project implementation. The private sector company Solaria has pro bono contributed solar PV panel’s equivalent to an estimated total of US$120,000 (US$10,000x 12 solar PV systems). PIDF and SOHS in-kind contribution are equivalent to an estimated total of US$120,000 towards the public awareness campaigns.

For more information contact:

Vincent Diringer, PR & Editorial Lead, Island Innovation, and Risiate Biudole, Communications Analyst, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji,