The new solar farm includes ground-mounted photovoltaic panels and battery storage technology that is fully integrated with the island’s diesel power station. The 500kW system has the capacity to produce 873MWh of energy per annum and is projected to offset an average of 225,000 litres of diesel each year. The system comprises 21 SMA Sunny Tripower 20000TL inverters, 15 SMA Sunny Backup 5000 inverters and the SMA Fuel Save Controller. “SMA is proud to be an integral part of the system at Vava’u, helping the Tongan government to reduce its fossil fuel dependency,”said Mark Twidell, Managing Director of SMA Australia. “This project benefits from the SMA Fuel Save Solution which stabilises the grid and prevents system failures.”
“The SMA Fuel Save Solution enables state of the art integration of PV into diesel genset systems without compromising operational readiness, reliability or fuel efficiency,” explains Rodger Whitby, General Manager Generation of the Australian solar power company Ingenero, who installed the solar farm.
Vava’u is the collective name for a chain of one large island and 40 smaller ones in Tonga, in the South Pacific Ocean. The main island of Vava’u covers an area of almost 90 square kilometres and is the second largest island in Tonga. Traditionally Vava’u relied on diesel generators for its electricity needs, but the development of a hybrid energy system was initialised in an effort to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions. The Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) strives to meet the target to supply 50 percent of the Kingdom’s power demand from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. The project was developed by Abu Dhabi based renewable energy company Masdar and is financed through a grant provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.