New Zealand’s renewable energy company Infratec and its sister company NETcon have won a joint bid to build on-grid solar and battery storage systems on Tonga’s islands of ‘Eua and Vava’u for NZ$7.5 million ($4.53 million). These projects will more than double the solar power currently on the island ensuring 28% of electricity needs of the people on ‘Eua and 7% for Vava’u.
With the help of solar power generation on these islands, there should be a reduction in the use of diesel power generation.
This project announcement comes soon after the companies secured the contract to build solar PV with battery storage projects in 5 remote outer islands of Tonga in March 2020. Both the projects are part of the Tonga Renewable Energy Project (TREP). Scope of work for the 2 companies for the 5 islands also involves developing a full-fledged distribution network including wiring individual households and community buildings.
The projects won in March 2020 will cost an investment of NZ$15 million ($9 million) and will bring affordable, reliable and clean energy to a population of 1,000 people on the isolated islands of O’ua, Tungua, Kotu, and Mo’unga’one in Tonga’s Ha’apai group and Niuafo’ou in the northernmost Niua group. These will ensure 24-hour power supply to the mostly off-grid inhabitants.
“The decreased energy costs from these projects will also have a very direct impact on people’s lives — reducing the cost of doing business, creating new business opportunities, and freeing up household income for other needs such as education,” said Infratec Chief Executive Greg Visser.
The TREP is administered by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), ADB, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Tongan Government.
In March 2019, ADB, GCF and the Government of Australia pooled in $44.6 million to support the Renewable Energy Project in Tonga for battery energy storage, grid connected and renewable energy hybrid systems and mini-grids.
With COVID-19 restrictions, the company earlier said for the 5 projects, its engineers are designing virtually from New Zealand and initial site works will be commenced using local resources. As for the NZ$7.5 million on-grid solar projects, Infratec team hopes to complete the work by mid-2021 assuming no longer term COVID-19 restrictions.