The installation of the third and final solar PV system has been completed on the South Pacific archipelago of Tokelau, giving the New Zealand-owned territory the capability to be the powered by 100 per cent solar energy. Described as a “world first” – the largest off-grid solar power project in the world, and the largest solar system in the South Pacific – the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project comprises 4,032 PV modules, 392 inverters and 1,344 batteries that will provide the entire electricity supply for the nation’s three tropical atolls, replacing diesel generators. Coconut-oil fired generators will provide backup capacity for cloudy days.
The New Zealand-funded project, which was overseen by Kiwi company Powersmart Solar, involved constructing mini solar grids on each of the three atolls: Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. “Completed on time and on budget, the project is an excellent example of how small Pacific nations can lead the way on renewable energy development,” said NZ foreign affairs minister Murray McCully on Wednesday.
As we wrote back in August, when the first mini solar grid was due to be switched on, Tokelau – with its population of 1,400 across a combined land area of 10 square kilometers – previously relied entirely on diesel to provide electricity between 15 and 18 hours a day. Around 200 liters of fuel were burned daily, meaning around 2,000 barrels had to be shipped from NZ at a cost of $NZ1 million a year. Powersmart director Mike Bassett-Smith says he expects the solar system – which has cost the NZ government $NZ7.5 million, all up – to repay itself in five years, and have a 20 year life before it needs any sort of significant maintenance.
In other news…
Danish wind energy giant Vestas is looking to sell a stake of as much as 20 percent and cutting staff by a further 3,000, bringing total job cuts for the world’s biggest wind turbine maker to almost a third over two years. Bloomberg reports that the company’s shares fell the most in 10 months after the company reported a third-quarter loss of €175 million. Vestas wants an investor to help it weather falling turbine prices, CFO Dag Andresen said.
Renault has flicked the switch on six giant solar PV systems across France, as part of the car maker’s global initiative to power its production sites using renewable energy generated onsite. The 59MW of solar power capacity, which has been described as the industry’s largest, covers the equivalent of 60 football pitches and could be a precursor to the installation of similar systems at the company’s facilities in Slovenia, Morocco, South America, Spain and South Korea.
COzero has chosen the forum of this year’s Carbon Expo in Melbourne to launch its new online trading platform – MarketLink – that will allow local traders to buy and sell green stocks online. “This marks an evolution in the environmental commodities market,” said COzero CEO Nick Armstrong today. “What began as an unsophisticated marketplace based on phone trades, is now developing with bespoke tools emerging to support the rapidly growing space.”
Carbon Expo today will also see nine Australian companies recognised for cutting their carbon footprint and helping other businesses improve sustainability. Qantas, Virgin Australia, Crown Melbourne, Carlton & United Breweries, PwC Australia, The GPT Group, Sensis, Focus Press and Vega Press, are among 29 companies nationwide which have shown environmental leadership through official Australian government carbon neutral certification by Low Carbon Australia.
And in the wake of Barack Obama’s re-election for another term as US President, the American Wind Energy Association is expressing its confidence that a much-debated federal renewable-energy tax credit will now be granted an extension by Congress. “There’s strong bipartisan support for wind and we look forward to immediate action,” said the association’s CEO Denise Bode. “An immediate one- year extension would restart development and protect jobs.”