Cutting-edge technology at two wind farms in New Caledonia has made the power grid greener and improved the lives of many islanders.
Pacific islands are facing growing ecological and socioeconomic challenges, now aggravated by climate change. The United Nations says that small island states are particularly threatened by changes in the global climate.
The project encompasses more than a hundred small wind turbines at two locations: Prony, in the South Province near the city of Mont-Dore, and Kafeate, in the North Province near the city of Koné. New Caledonia is surrounded by the world’s second largest coral reef. Extreme weather events and rising sea levels have made it a highly vulnerable and significant ecological hot spot.
In addition to expanding renewable energies, the project strengthened local initiatives to improve the labour market and encouraged activities for the community and young people. Both wind farms utilised only roads that were already there, sparing the landscape from new road construction and preventing additional soil erosion.
New Caledonia lies in an area highly exposed to cyclones. The wind turbines in this project were engineered specifically to deal with this risk. When there is an extreme weather alert, all turbines can be tilted down within a few hours. This intelligent technical solution is perfectly adapted to the location and guarantees that renewable energies can continue to supply power – despite an extreme weather event.
The project serves as an example for similar wind farm projects throughout the South Pacific and stands for responsible sustainable development, a sensitive issue for the local population.
Positive social and economic side effects
- Indigenous Kanak now hold 30 temporary and 28 permanent jobs. This has reduced pressure on the local population to emigrate. Enercon, a German turbine manufacturer, has trained employees to work in operations, maintenance and repairs, and safety-relevant aspects.
- Due to its well-trained personnel, the company based in New Caledonia now operates and maintains projects in the entire Pacific region.
- The project has facilitated technological developments in a wider area thanks to its innovative and first-time use of cyclone-safe turbines.
- Much of the work in constructing the wind farm was done by small local businesses, helping to strengthen the area’s economy.
- Regular open-door days raise public awareness of issues concerning the environment and climate change: the local population and groups of schoolchildren routinely visit the wind farms.
- Two partially funded community centres (in Mont-Dore and Yaté) offer employment and training opportunities in collaboration with indigenous groups and communities.
- The project owner supports a regional community group which offers occupational training to young people, organises sports and cultural events, and facilitates initiatives and local improvements in infrastructure.
- This first Gold Standard VER project in the Pacific region will encourage the development of more emission reduction projects in the region.
- The project’s activities have led to a reduction in air pollutants, including 600 tons of sulphur dioxide (SO2), 700 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and other components from the combustion of fossil fuels.
- To minimise its environmental impact, the project used existing roads from earlier mining activities and did not build new roads in the hills, successfully avoiding the additional erosion of soil.
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