Australian solar firm Ingenero has begun construction of a 500kW solar PV project with battery storage that will account for around 13 per cent of the electricity demand on the Tonga island of Vava’u.
The first solar panels are already in place (see photo) on the project, which will reduce diesel consumption by up to 70 per cent during the day-time peaks.
“It will also form an important reference site for similar opportunities in the Pacific and remote Australian mine sites that run on diesel generators,” he said in a statement.
Tonga switched on its first solar plant in July last year – 1MW plant on the main island of Tongatapu, and is intent on rolling out more solar projects to offset the crippling cost of diesel.
The island nation consumes about 30 million litres of diesel a year for electricity.
The company aims to have 50 per cent of its electricity sourced from solar, wind and biomass by 2018. The Tongatapu plant has already allowed the government to lower the price of electricity to consumers, and the savings from avoided diesel costs will dwarf the upfront cost of the solar plants.
The Vava’u project is being developed by Abu Dhabi based renewable energy company Masdar, and is financed through a $5 million grant provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. It is due to be completed by the end of the year.