Masdar will be in charge of the implementation and construction of a 500 KW solar photovoltaic power plant to be installed in Vava’u Island. The project, is financed by a grant provided by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the solar plant will deliver around 13 percent of Tonga’s annual electricity demand.
Commissioning the photovoltaic power plant is part of the Tonga Energy Road Map – a ten year plan to increase the quality of access to modern energy services through an environmentally sustainable manner.
Announcing the initiative, the Honourable Minister of Lands, Survey, Natural Resources, Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lord Ma'afu said: "The project is another strong demonstration of His Majesty’s commitment to promoting climate change mitigation through clean energy reform and by integrating green power generation to produce 13 percent of the annual electricity demand. The project will also result in strong social and economic benefits through a reduction in the price of electricity and saving 180,000 L of diesel fuel."
In 2011, a team of technical experts from Masdar studied the island’s grid system to mitigate any potential impacts as a result of the implementation of the solar plant. The grid on Vava’u has an installed capacity of 1.87 MW with a base demand of around 500 kW during the day and a peak power demand reaching 1 MW during the early hours of the evening. The solar plant will deliver more than 50 percent of the base load during the day.
Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE special envoy for energy and climate change and CEO of Masdar, said: “The UAE and Tonga’s partnership makes a clear case for the deployment of renewable energy as a cost-effective means to enable energy security and to de-carbonize the power sector. Both of our countries, as committed members of the International Renewable Energy Agency, hope that this project provides a template for island nations and aid agencies around the world.
Commenting on this initiative, Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Acting Director General of ADFD, said: “Financing such a vital project reflects our commitment to supporting the Pacific Islands economic development and in achieving our common goals of sustainable development utilizing renewal energy. We also believe that developing countries have the right in having the clean energy which will cause a positive impact on enhancing social and humanitarian development.”
The project is also part of Masdar’s commitment to the UN Secretary General’s Year of Sustainable Energy for All – that was launched from WFES in Abu Dhabi on January 16.
Masdar is working in collaboration with TERM IU to release an expression of interest to potential companies for the execution of the project.
“This project was a direct result of directives set out by the wise and visionary leadership of the UAE – who frequently emphasize the importance of building bridges with nations in a bid to widen the scope of support for the development, deployment and acceleration of renewable energy and clean technologies,” added Dr Al Jaber.
Pacific Island Countries are heavily reliant on energy imports, and only 30% of the population on average has access to energy.
Earlier in the week, during a meeting of Pacific Presidents organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Dr Al Jaber, emphasized on the importance of engaging and supporting countries in the Pacific Islands.
Minister Lord Ma'afu, on behalf of the Prime Minister and His Majesty’s Government, extended a deep appreciation to the United Arab Emirates government and ADFD for funding this commitment and congratulated Masdar for its professionalism and innovative approach in deploying the solar project.
The MOU was signed during the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, from January 16-19.
WFES is the world’s foremost annual meeting committed to promoting advancement of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the water and waste sectors by engaging political, business, finance, academic and industry leaders to drive innovation, business and investment opportunities in response to the growing need for sustainable energy.