ASU kicks off solar training program in Fiji with collaborators in Pacific Islands

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University, is implementing the Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) Program to help improve the sustainability of renewable energy investments and infrastructure in the Pacific region by increasing local awareness, knowledge and capacity in clean energy.

On Feb. 12 U.S. Ambassador Frankie A. Reed; Rajesh Chandra, the University of the South Pacific (USP) vice chancellor and president; and Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities Francis Kean led the inaugural event at the USP for a training program supported by the U.S. government that will promote clean energy in the Pacific Islands.

“We are pleased to support this important program which will harness U.S. expertise to help Pacific Island nations sustain solar energy investments and make them accessible and useful to communities in the region,” said Ambassador Reed in her opening remarks.

VOCTEC, in partnership with USP, is implementing a two-year solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity-building program customized for the Pacific Islands to support the sustainability of off-grid solar energy installations and help in the reduction of carbon emissions. Solar PV panels are widespread throughout the Pacific region and are the most appropriate technology to replace dependence on imported petroleum products.

Fifteen participants, including two women, from Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, completed the two-week training for instructors. The training focused on the design, installation, operation and maintenance of stand-alone solar PV power systems. Reed, Chandra and Kean visited the VOCTEC training hub at USP and talked with participants before the start of the inaugural event.

Aside from setting up its training hub at USP, VOCTEC also will establish training programs across the Pacific region. The program will hold train-the-technicians events in collaboration with universities and technical and vocational education institutions throughout the region.

ASU’s engineering faculty members, headed by solar PV industry leader G. Tamizhmani, an expert in the field, developed the training materials and syllabus. The VOCTEC program has partnered with USP to develop a training center and to deliver these courses for educators throughout the region.

“ASU is pleased to support the advancement of clean energy in the Pacific Islands,” said Anshuman Razdan, professor and associate dean at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation. “With the support of USAID and USP, we can help build local capacity that will strengthen the sustainability of renewable energy investments in the Pacific Islands.”