|Her Majesty, Queen Nanasipau’u officiates the ground breaking ceremony for the new 2 Megawatt solar plant. Matatoa, Tofoa
The ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the largest solar facility to be built on Tonga was officiated by her Majesty, Queen Nanasipau’u on Tuesday, 6th December 2016 at Matatoa.
The project is funded by Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology Ltd at a total cost in excess of T$10M. This 2 MW solar facility is the first power plant to be funded by an independent power producer.
Tonga Power Ltd. CEO Robert Matthews said, a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement have been signed between Zhuhau Singyess and TPL in September this year.
“By engaging an Independent power producer like Zhuhai Singyes, it enables the energy sector to achieve its energy efficiency goals and utilize third party investments on clean electricity generation, which can be tailored as a template for similar agreements in the future” he said.
In addition, Tonga Power is marking the start of the work to add another 2 megawatt of solar energy to the Maama Mai and Mata ‘o e La’a solar facilities that are currently operated and maintained by Tonga Power.
Renewable Energy Target
The Minister for Public Enterprises Hon Poasi Tei said Government meant business when they said 50% renewable energy by 2020.
He stated that petroleum dependency makes Tonga highly vulnerable to oil price changes and shocks, which in turn affects our ability to afford necessities such as food, goods, electricity, and transport.
“More than 91% of our overall grid-connected electricity demand is supplied by generators fueled by imported diesel. In addition, an estimated 13 million liters of diesel is consumed to generate this electricity at a cost that is about 10% of our gross domestic product and about 15% of the total value of imports”
“Peak demand is expected to increase to 17.2 megawatts by 2020”, adds the Minister.
He said it is clear that progress towards their goal of generating 50% of grid-based electricity from renewable energy sources and achieving a 50% reduction in diesel consumption by 2020 is more than just a feel good statement that attracts regional and international acclaim.
“It is a firm declaration of Tonga’s intent and a core part of the Government’s strategy to guard against oil price volatility and to take the necessary steps to improve the reliability of power supply to our people.”
Outer Islands Renewable Energy Projects
The Outer Islands Renewable Energy Projects will contribute to the reduction of Tonga’s dependence on imported fossil fuel for power generation.
Tonga Power Ltd is building a new 550 KW solar plant with large storage devices on Ha’apai. It is expected that when the project is completed, renewable energy penetration on Ha’apai will increase from 20% to 50%.
“The construction of the 200 KW solar plant on the island of ‘Eua is currently underway. There are other renewable energy projects in the pipeline, including the one we are here to commemorate today, which should give us much confidence for the future”, said the Honorable Minister.
Mr Sam Leung said Zhuhai Singyes is a worldwide solar energy provider that has built and delivered more than 1.5GW solar projects all over the world.
The Chinese Ambassador HE Mr Huang Huaguang said this is the biggest solar farm project in Tonga with investment by a Chinese owned company, which will raise the proportion of clean energy in Tonga and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
This project symbolizes a Chinese company’s active participation in Tonga’s economic and social development through investment.