The capital city of the South Pacific’s Solomon Islands is set to have a 1MW solar PV power plant, after a deal was signed between the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand to jointly fund the development.
The project, which will be developed by UAE renewables company Masdar, will be funded 60/40 by UAE and NZ respectively, as part of the United Arab Emirates Pacific Partnership Fund – a $50 million fund established in 2013 to develop wind and solar projects across 11 Pacific island nations.
Once completed, the solar plant in Honiara will meet 7 per cent of the Solomon Islands’ energy needs and reduce CO2 emissions by over 1,200 tonnes, while also offsetting more than 450,000 litres of diesel fuel annually.
Many of the island nations and archipelagos in the Pacific have been developing renewable energy generation capacity and mini-grids made up of wind, solar and storage, in an effort to cut their dependence on expensive and polluting diesel fuel, and to contribute to the effort to slow global warming – the effects of which some of these islands are already experiencing.
For its part, New Zealand has been driving a major push to boost the uptake of renewable energy among its Pacific neighbours, investing $100 million in the cause across seven Pacific Island countries.
In 2012, NZ’s Powersmart Solar installed three solar power and battery storage systems on the South Pacific archipelago of Tokelau, to replace the diesel electricity systems that have powered its three atolls.
And the Kingdom of Tonga switched on its own maiden solar plant in July 2012 – another New Zealand-funded project.
Last year, Samoa completed the installation of its largest solar project yet – a 546kW PV system that spans three separate sites on two of the independent state’s South Pacific islands, Savai’I and Upolu.
The project, developed by US company SunWize Technologies in conjunction with Samoan power utility Electric Power Corporation (EPC), was financed by Japan through the Pacific Environment Community Fund.
Of the projects being delivered under the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund, six have already been delivered or are currently under construction.
The first completed project was the 512 kW solar PV installation in Tonga, while others include the first ever 550kW wind farm for Samoa, three micro grid solar plants in Fiji that supply clean energy to some of the nation’s outer islands, and solar plants for Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu.