Tonga moves closer to renewable energy target

The Tongan island of Vava’u is now home to a PV-diesel hybrid power system – the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.

The project is a part of the 10-year Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) plan, which strives to meet the target to supply
50 per cent of the kingdom’s power demand from renewable energy sources by the year 2020.

The German solar technology company SMA installed the 500kW system, which will offset up to 70 per cent of Vava’u’s electricity demand during the day and 13 per cent of the islands’ annual demand.

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 system solution incorporates the SMA Fuel Save Controller, which enables the smart integration of photovoltaics while leaving the diesel gensets unaffected. An additional storage unit ensures environmental challenges, like cloud cover, are not a problem.

The new solar farm includes ground-mounted photovoltaic panels and battery storage technology that is fully integrated with the island’s diesel power station.