Fiji could enact a cooperative model of renewable energy generation to increase vital clean electricity production, improve its distribution problems, and overcome outdated legislation that stifle reforms in the country’s energy sector, new research from the ANU has found.
The arguments are outlined in an article in the Journal of World Energy Law and Business by undergraduate Gina Zheng.
“The co-operative model has had a demonstrated success within Fiji’s natural resource management sector and importantly provides a transparent social and political space for actors to interact,” Gina wrote.
“The locally-focused and community empowerment ethos of the co-operative model further makes appropriate such a regulatory framework in supporting renewable energy deployment within Melanesian culture.”
Gina, who’s due to graduate with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) / Bachelor of Arts (Development Studies) in December, says she was surprised when her paper was accepted by the prestigious journal.
“I had chosen to submit my paper to the Journal of World Energy Law & Business as I had read many fantastic journal articles from prestigious environmental and energy law thinkers over the last two to three years, including Adrian Bradbrook and Raphael Herron, so I really wasn't sure my paper was to their academic standard,” Gina recalled.
“As such, it was certainly a lovely surprise, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and support from ANU to have been able to written such a paper on a topic I'm so passionate and interested about.”
Gina researched Fiji’s renewable energy sector while based in the South Pacific nation’s Environmental Law Association as a New Colombo Plan Fellow in 2017.
“While I was with the law association I provided legal research assistance to their discussion and scoping papers on sustainable management of livelihoods and undertook a field trip to a local small island of Serua,” she said.
“During this time, I wrote a research paper which was published in the Alternative Law Journal (March 2018).
“I also spent some of my scholarship exchange interning with GHD, a global environmental consultancy, in their Fiji office where I conducted a legislative review of the legislative and regulatory frameworks governing electricity and renewable energy in the nation.
“This research gaps analysis really fuelled my academic interest in this particular area of law and formed the foundations of my understanding of Fiji's electricity and energy sector.
“My particular focus on Fiji derives from my strong interest in Melanesian society and culture. As an anthropologist at heart, conducting a research paper on renewable energy laws in the Melanesian context allowed me to fuse my two biggest passions - sustainability and environmental management, and the importance of a locally-focused and culturally-driven approach to development.”
Gina says she’s grateful for the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan for her scholarship and the chance to spend time in Fiji and Papua New Guinea and gain experiences and insight that developed her research paper.
“I am also, of course, incredibly grateful to my research paper supervisor Dr James Prest for our ‘intellectual tennis-ball’ conversations, and for constantly challenging my arguments and approaches,” she says.
“James provided an incommensurate insight into the finer details of my argumentative analysis. It has been a pleasure working as his research assistant on renewable energy legal regulations in Australia following the completion of my paper.
“Finally, I am also very grateful to the ANU College of Law for their research-driven approach to academic learning.
“I have definitely developed a deep passion for research and writing over the course of my studies, and this is definitely attributable to the quality of teaching and research standards at ANU.
“Having access to, and learning from, many acclaimed research scholars at ANU has influenced my passion and love for research and writing.”