Vanuatu, an archipelago nation located in the South Pacific relies on imported diesel for much of its electricity supply. This dispersed island group faces diseconomies of scale, volatile oil prices and lack of diversity in electricity sources. As a result, the consumers face some of the highest electricity prices in the world. The demand in Tanna Island is growing by 10% per annum and the authorities are increasing diesel consumption to cope. This cannot continue sustainably for a prolonged period. At the same, the Vanuatu Islands are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. For this reason, a holistic attitude is required in infrastructure development, bringing resilience into the foreground. Hybrid energy systems, which combine indigenous energy resources have proven to be a successful alternative for diesel generation. Their autonomous nature also has potential to provide increased resilience which is geared towards reducing disaster impact.
The research also revealed that a critical link in which energy infrastructure influences the resilience in the disaster response is through communication infrastructure. Exploiting the autonomous nature of HESs combined with pre-disaster management, resilience based design standards and early warning systems, it was determined that “islanding” the grid has potential to provide an uninterrupted electricity supply through similar hazards. It was recommended that an “emergency” network connecting HES components to critical infrastructure can provide resilience in the event of disasters. This strategy may also prove useful in times where there are maintenance issues and faults.