UNELCO General Manager Mark Perraud says coconut oil biodiesel could be the “silver bullet for Vanuatu in reaching its climate commitments” – ambitious, to say the least.
The small island nation wants to be 100 per cent fuelled by renewable energy by 2030.
UNELCO is experimenting with a variety of sustainable energy options to suit their tropical climate, including wind, solar and biofuels.
The company first envisioned using biodiesel from coconut oil to run generators way back in 1982.
Diesel generators are the go to for most people in Vanuatu, where many live in remote locations, but the abundance of cheap and readily-available petroleum diesel at the time made using coconut oil uneconomical.
Now, with diesel prices increasing, and a country-wide commitment to move away from carbon-producing fuels, they thought they’d have another crack at it.
Frédéric Petit, Development Manager for UNELCO in Vanuatu, was tasked with making it happen.
“We started to see the price of diesel increasing, and increasing to such an extent that we were afraid there would have been issues for low income customers to pay their bills,” he said.
“So we started to run diesel generators with coconut oil.