Marshall Islands (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Total Installed Electricity Capacity (2009): 17.3 MW

Electricity production accounts for about 30% of RMI’s national petroleum consumption.31% of the population are still predominantly using solid fuels (e.g. biomass) for domestic energy needs.

Although there are no recent data on biomass consumption, it is estimated that about 90% of energy use (2003) is from petroleum, biomass remaining significant but declining to about 10 percent.

Currently, renewables account for roughly 0.05% of the installed capacity on the islands, the remainder being conventional diesel generators. In 2003, the consumption per residential consumer was estimated to be 720 kWh per month, among the highest of all Pacific Island Countries (PICs). MEC customers on other islands than Majuro, the capital island account for only 5% of the demand.

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The RMI is totally dependent on imported fossil fuels for transport and electricity generation. In 2008 following the global energy crisis driving up global oil prices, the government spent nearly 20% of the national budget on fuel. This event forced the government to declare a state of economic emergency, which has made it even more urgent for the RMI to implement measures to improve the energy efficiency as well as to consider renewable sources of energy.

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Extend network

In 2009, 63% of households in total had electricity. 88% of urban households, and 12% of rural households, are electrified. Nearly 90% of urban households on Ebeye Island had electric lighting in 1999, compared to 13% in outer islands, 71% of whom used kerosene.

On Majuro Island, the grid served 4,582 customers in 2010, with approximately 54 km of transmission lines.

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Capacity concerns

An area of concern is the extent of the energy losses from the electric systems. Energy losses in a diesel power plant are normally in the 3% to 5% range of total generator output. MEC has energy losses in the power plant in the range of 6.8% to 7.7%.

There is also concern about the compatibility of copra oil for use in stationary diesel engines, such as the power production units. The plan to upgrade Majuro Station One, Engine #3 to utilise biofuels is currently in the funding stage.

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Renewable energy

Solar energy
Solar PV is the most appropriate technology for electricity production from renewable energy in the RMI. In 2006, two atolls had every house (195 in total) powered with solar lighting systems, and another two atolls were waiting for the ordered materials to arrive. In 2006, the goal was to have all 1760 households in the remote outer islands powered with solar lighting systems within the next five years (by the end of 2011).

Wave energy
Wave energy and Ocean Tidal Energy Conversion have long-term potential, but both are the prototype stage.

Biomass energy
A proposed project for small-scale mill systems in the outer islands is currently on hold. MEC also plans to refit the Majuro Station One, Engine #3 to utilise biofuels. The Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative has conducted a feasibility study on the uptake of coconut/copra biofuels as a source of energy for the RMI. Tobolar copra mill is retailing a 50/50 blend of filtered coconut oil and diesel, below the price of regular diesel. SOPAC inspections have ratified that long-term use of the blend will not damage regular diesel engines.

Wind energy
A wind monitoring project, to assess the wind resource of the islands, is currently underway. The island's first wind turbine was installed in April 2011 by a private firm, Moana Marine LLC. Capacity currently stands at 10 kW. Wind speeds for the island have been recorded in the past by the U.S., with averages in the region of 6-7 m/s throughout the islands.

Hydropower, Geothermal
There is no hydroelectric potential, due to the topography of the islands and the lack of suitable onshore water sources, and no practical geothermal energy development potential.

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Energy efficiency

Demand side efficiencies can be improved greatly at relatively low cost. To date there have been no concentrated efforts to improve demand side management (DSM), except for a, supposedly incorrect, form of Energy Labelling. The island's total dependence on imported petroleum products for power generation could also be addressed for efficiency improvements, for example the use of hybrid CHP/biofuel systems. Electricity use per capita was 1,850 kWh in 2009. The efficiency of appliances, as well as household and business energy auditing, were seen as necessary steps towards improving the efficiency of the country. To this end, the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), in conjunction with REEEP, ran a training workshop in 2010, to build capacity within local NGOs, the private sector, and the government for EE measures.

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The electric utility in Majuro, Marshalls Energy Company Inc. (MEC, is publicly owned by the Marshall Islands national government. It is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the President and Chaired by the Minister of Public Works. 

Electric power in Ebeye, the other major urban centre, is supplied by the Kawajalein Atoll Joint Utilities Resources (KAJUR, This utility was established in 1990 by the Kwajalein Atoll Development Authority and the local government to manage local power generation and distribution and a water desalination system using waste heat from the power plant.

Oil and Natural Gas
The Marshall Islands have no indigenous oil or gas production. The entirety of the petroleum supply to the islands is imported, via two main companies: the MEC, and the private firm Mobil.

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There seems to be limited competition because of the MEC’s leading role, and the lack of private sector stimulus.

There is high degree of vertical integration, as the Marshalls Energy Company (MEC) is the most important player involved in generation, transmission, distribution and retails of all energy sources, including renewable energy, of the Marshall Islands. On Ebeye Island, the KAJUR company maintains a monopoly position, with an assumed high degree of vertical integration. KAJUR is also responsible for numerous other public utilities, including sanitation and water.

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Energy framework

In 2003, the Marshall Islands National Energy Policy (MINEP) was adopted. In the wake of the 2008 energy crisis, the policy was updated in 2009, and a new National Energy Plan was created.

In 2008, RMI was finalising a project proposal to directly address the region’s energy needs and vulnerability to climate change impacts. This US$ 14 million program would provide approximately US$ 1 million of support for renewable energy projects in RMI’s outer islands.

The Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative (GSEII) had two projects in the RMI: an Energy Efficient Lighting Program, providing 10,000 energy efficient light bulbs, and a project to expand the use of photovoltaic technology.

The RMI are also going to benefit from the 10th EU Development Program 2008-2013. Funding for the island increased by 26%, to €5.8 million. Under the previous EDP, outer islands in particular were supported in their drive to establish renewable energy systems. Funding again targets renewable energy and energy efficiency, but capacity building and institutional strengthening of the office of the National Authorising Officer is also supported.

In the Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in  Small Island Developing States (SIDS - 2012), the country reiterates its commitment to the Marshall Islands 2009 National Energy Policy and Energy Action Plan, the 2011 National Climate Change Policy Framework and Joint National Action Plan (for climate change adaptation, energy security and disaster risk reduction), and the Green Energy Micronesia initiative:

1. A 40% reduction in CO2 emissions below 2009 levels by 2020;
2. Electrification of 100% of urban households and 95% of rural outer atoll households by 2015;
3. The provision of 20% of energy through indigenous renewable resources by 2020;
4. Improved efficiency of energy use in 50% of households and businesses, and 75% of government buildings by 2020;
5. A 20% efficiency improvement in transportation sector fuel use by 2020;
6. Feasibility studies and internationally supported financing plans for innovative ‘game-changing’ renewable energy and sustainable development opportunities including Majuro atoll waste-to-energy and Kwajalein/Ebeye atoll OTEC plants undertaken by 2015.

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Energy debates

In 30 January 2009, leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector have signed an energy policy agreement, the Majuro Energy Declaration, that maps out the path towards greater energy efficiency and security in the Marshall Islands, mainly as a response to enormous pressure of fuel imports during the fuel crisis in 2008.

In August 2010, the Government ratified the RMI Climate Change Roadmap 2010, in order to create a national framework for a cohesive approach to climate change mitigation activities. Fast-start financing projects, as proposed in the Copenhagen Accord of the UNFCCC, were implemented, where a centralised fund is used for mitigation, technology transfer and capacity-building in climate change.

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Energy studies

Key energy studies for the country include the Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Project (PIREP) study of the RMI (and other islands in the Pacific), the PPA study for the US department of interior and ADB’s Outer Islands Electricity Study.

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Role of government

The Energy Planning Division (EPD) of the Ministry of Resources and Development (MRD) is in charge of energy policy, coordination and implementation.  The EPD tends to deal mainly with solar photovoltaic (PV) energy for outer islands.

The Economic Policy, Planning and Statistics Office is closely involved in rural electrification policy.

The Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination handles all Global Environment Facility (GEF) activities, all programs under the UNFCCC and coordinates the RMI PIREP study.

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Government agencies

There are no dedicated government agencies for sustainable energy.  There are still separate renewable energy activities within the Energy Planning Division (EPD), and the telecommunications, fisheries, health and education ministries. As the MEC has the experience and capacity to implement renewable energy projects, it has a de facto lead and coordinating role.

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Energy procedure

The Republic of the Marshall Island has adopted EC policy. The Marshall Electric Company has begun installing 10,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in 2008 replacing inefficient incandescent light bulbs in homes and buildings in Marshall Islands. Climate Care, a UK-based company specialising in the sale of carbon emissions offsets through its carbon offset projects distributes CFLs in the small island states. Majuro residents were taking out light globes and turning off necessary appliances. The Marshall Island has made substantial progress under its Actions for the Development of the Marshall Islands Renewable Energy Programme.

Snapshots of  current RMI’s energy projects are:

  •     $100,000 for prepaid meter project funded by U.S. Dept. of Interior.
  •      Air Conditioning (A/C) Efficiency Project for the RMI Energy Office: estimated value of $30,000.00 and funded by the Australian government.  Energy efficient AC units were installed at the RMI Energy Office. ROC (Taiwan) also donated computer equipment valued at $20,000.
  •      Retrofitted lighting at RMI Energy Office ($30,000 AUSAID).
  •      Outreach & Education: Energy Efficiency Conference (with technical and financial assistance from SPC).
  •      Streetlight retrofits from mercury vapour to Light Emitting Diode (LED): $1.1M funding provided by Italian government by way of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  •      Currently implementing solar streetlight project for RMI’s densely populated areas: estimated value of $550,000.00 ($400,000.00 funded by ROC).
  •      Solar PV grid-connected project for Majuro Hospital rooftop: estimated value of $4.5 million and funded by Japan's Cool Earth Partnership.
  •     North Renewable Energy Project: provide 1,500 stand alone solar PV systems at an average   cost of $4,000-$5,000 per system; Refurbished solar PV systems for outer island health clinic (funded by the EU 10th EDF).

Green Micronesia Initiative
Launched in 2010, FSM is part to the “Green Micronesia Initiative.” This sub-regional initiative, spearheaded by the Chief Executives of the Micronesian governments, aims to increase energy efficiency (by 20%), increase energy conservation (by 20%), and expand renewable energy (to achieve 30% power generation from renewable technologies). The target date for achieving these targets is 2020.

North Pacific ACP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (North-REP)
The North Pacific ACP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (North-REP) launched in 2010 aims to improve the overall efficiency of the energy sector through energy efficiency and grid-connected renewable energy in three island member countries of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau and Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI). The EUR14.4 million project aims to improve the quality of life on the outer islands (RMI, FSM) and to reduce dependency on fossil fuels (RMI, FSM, Palau).

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Energy regulator

There is no independent energy regulator. MEC plays the de facto lead role in energy sector implementation and coordination, partly due to the EPD being understaffed and limited in budget, but largely because MEC is active in electric power, petroleum fuels and renewable energy technologies as well as working in a number of islands on a contractual or advisory basis.

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Degree of independence

The MEC is a government entity. Despite responsibility for overall energy policy, the MRD is not represented on the board of the MEC.

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Regulatory framework

No framework currently exists for the regulation of renewable energy. Previously in the country, renewable energy and energy efficiency have not been part of the integrated energy policy of the country, instead being considered separately. The 2009 policy recommends the integration of RE & EE concerns into overall energy planning, and the creation of an appropriate legislative framework.

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Regulatory roles

No organisation takes an active role in energy regulation in the country. The MEC regulates its own activities within the sector.

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Energy regulation role

The main task of the Energy Planning Division within the Ministry of Resources and Development is to coordinate National Energy plans, review and implement the national energy policy as and when appropriate, and establish a national energy supply and demand database, among others. However, the EPD has not assumed a regulatory role in the energy sector.

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Regulatory barriers

A number of institutional and technical barriers exist. Inadequate developments of capacity within the MEC and the EPD have both hampered energy development within the country. A lack of standards and certification for equipment, and personnel standards, have also impacted upon energy efficiency development. The complete lack of a regulatory framework for the energy sector has also led to problems, including inadequate tariff structures for urban customers, and those in receipt of a solar home system from the MEC, whose tariffs for the systems fail to cover operational and maintenance costs. Development of a regulatory framework for the energy sector, with particular reference to renewable energy development, would lead to fairer and more stable energy sector development.


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Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (2012). Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Mohanty, Manoranjan (2012) New renewable energy sources, green energy development and climate change: Implications to Pacific Island countries, Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 23 Iss: 3 pp. 264- 274. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Green Energy Micronesia (2012) Regional Energy Report. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

UNDP (2010) Millennium Development Goals FSM Report 2010. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

PREEN (2010) PREEN Newsletter – Pacific Resource and Environmental Economics Network. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

IRENA (2010) Renewable Energy Country Profile. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

ADB (2010) Improved Energy Supply for Rural Households - Marshall Islands. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Marshall Islands Energy Company (2010) Majuro Power Grid Information. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Marshall Islands Energy Company (n.d.) Renewable Energy in the Marshall Islands. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Moana Marine (2010) Projects, last updated 2013. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

USA Solar Wind Inc. (n.d.) Guam, Marshall Islands Wind Speed Maps for Wind Turbine Users. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative (n.d.) Vision 20/30, Biofuels. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

REEEP (2010) Energy Audit and Training Report, Marshall Islands. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Government of the Marshall Islands (2009) National Energy Policy. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

European Commission (n.d.) Development and Co-operation, EuropeAid, Marshall Islands. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Government of the Marshall Islands (2009) National Energy Action Plan. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Republic of the Marshall Islands Climate Change Roadmap 2010. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Government of the Marshall Islands (2009) Majuro Energy Declaration 2009. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]
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