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 Energy Research Scholarships 2012





In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA 2012), recognising that ‘… access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of … the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.’


It is estimated that about 70% of the people in the Pacific still do not have access to electricity. The costs of electricity in the region are among the highest in the world, while petroleum import is equivalent to an increasing percentage of national GDPs and total exports. Total energy losses in some power utilities are as high as 25% and renewable energy opportunities and efficiency gains in the transport sector remain generally under-utilised.


Given the above challenges, the 2009 Pacific Energy Ministers Meeting (PEMM) directed SPC to proactively undertake and support social, economic and policy research and analysis on the energy sector (petroleum, transportation, renewable energy and energy efficiency and energy conservation, energy infrastructure, power) and provide policy responses and strategic solutions to members and key stakeholders, to inform their own decision-making processes.


The Energy Programme of the Economic Development Division (EDD), Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the University of the South Pacific, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Power Association and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), is organising and coordinating activities to be undertaken during the SEFA 2012 in order to increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use.



We are therefore seeking applications from Masters or PhD students interested in undertaking research in areas that will contribute to the decision-making process on energy security in PICTs.   


A list of possible topics is attached as Annex 1.




The selection of the scholarships will be based on the following criteria:

  • Applicant must be a national of a SPC member country and territory[1] and currently enrolled in a Master’s or PhD programme.
  • Ability to work independently and excellent report writing skills.
  • Research topic must be based on a community and/or an entire SPC member country and territory. Researchers are encouraged to incorporate issues relating to poverty, women and children as well as climate change in their research.
  • There are five available scholarships each worth up to US$2,000. Applications must include a detailed breakdown of costs clearly stating items to be covered by SPC. Eligible costs include accommodation in Suva while doing data collection with the SPC Energy Programme and other Suva-based national, regional and international agencies, local transportation, cost of hiring a research assistant (if applicable), printing and publication.
  • The research topic and budget must have the prior approval of the applicant’s supervisor.
  • SPC must have access to all research data and information and copies of the completed research paper.  

Depending on the completion of the research, extra support may be provided to enable the researcher to present his/her research findings at relevant national and regional meetings and events. 


Duration and Supervision


The research duration will depend on the research content and the requirements of the University. It is expected that the student will be supervised by their nominated academic referee and will have access to supervision from the Energy Programme, the nature of which will be agreed between the Faculty and EDD. 




Each application must include the University-approved research proposal and must be submitted electronically to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The deadline for the applications will be 30th April 2012 and the successful applications will be announced at the Pacific launch of the SEFA 12 in May 2012.  


Further enquiries should be directed to: Solomone Fifita, Deputy Director (Energy), Economic Development Division, SPC. (Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )


Annex 1 - List of Research Topics


Access to Energy

  • A technical and socio-economic evaluation of a solar photovoltaic project in a PICT community
  • A feasibility study of  a micro hydropower project in a community in Melanesia
  • Assessing the impacts of introducing biodiesel blends for reducing public transport fuel consumption
  • A comparative study of policy and planning options for small island states
  • Assessing the economics of grid-connected photovoltaics
  • Assessing the economics of grid-connected wind turbines
  • Assessing the economics of grid-connected wind turbines - of a scale and technology appropriate for implementation in a particular PICT
  • Assessing the economics of, and potential for, methane recovery and power generation from sewage and agricultural wastes in the PICT

Affordability of Energy

  • Comparison of options for sustainable water desalination in small island states - Solar PV vs. Cogeneration
  • Assessing the current fuel consumption of domestic commercial shipping in the Pacific
  • The impacts of energy costs on the cost effectiveness of shipping and ICT services in a remote community of a PICT
  • Cost-benefit analysis of improved solar dryers for remote islands
  • Identifying the true cost of diesel generated power in a remote community of a PICT   
  • The socio-economic impacts of the heavy reliance on fossil fuel in a PICT

Energy Efficiency and Productivity 

  • Regulatory incentives for greater energy efficiency in the road transportation sector: A Case Study
  • Costing options for energy efficient street lighting in a PICT capital 
  • Assessment of impacts of supply chain on cost of renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment in smaller Pacific island states 
  • Use of renewable energy for productive uses: A Case Study

Environmental Quality

  • An assessment of the GHG emissions from the transport sector of a PICT
  • An assessment of the GHG emissions from the power sector of a PICT
  • A comparative cost analysis of mitigation GHG emissions with renewable energy and energy efficiency in a PICT 

[1] SPC has 26 members: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna plus Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America (four of the founding countries). They include the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories served by SPC:



Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 12:31