In my August 2005 post, Coconut Crude I wrote about how coconut oil can be turned into an excellent fuel for diesel motors and is being put to that use now in the tropics.
The combined effects of peaking world oil production and increased demand from developing countries is causing international tensions to rise along with the price of oil. For economies in small countries such as Fiji, the tripling of price of oil in this decade has had a very damaging impact.
The Fiji Electric Authority (FEA) has announced that it plans to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for power generation by the year 2011 and become a "100% renewable energy power utility". They are already working on two new hydroelectric systems, a wind energy farm, and coconut oil diesel fuel for the island of Rotuma. A 3.3 MW generator that runs of coconut oil is being tested. Geothermal energy is being looked into as well.
As some people have pointed out, there is much more that needs to be done in Fji, and perhaps there are better ways to go about it. There needs to be a coordinated approach which involves not only the electrical utility, but also building codes (to require new buildings to utilize solar energy), the planning of new businesses which require energy, and new fuels for the transportation sector, such as coconut diesel and perhaps sugar cane ethanol.
The double edged sword of world peak oil production and global warming is hanging over our heads, and the only way out in my view is to shift away from fossil fuels to renewables as quickly as possible. This will entail some challenging changes to our lifestyle that will be much better handled if faced early on rather than after the conditions reach a point where they are forced upon us.
I for one am happy to see the FEA set this goal and hope other parts of the Fiji government, businesses, and community will also contribute to weaning Fiji off of fossil fuel.
Thanks to laminar_flow whose mention of this story on his blog drew my attention to it.