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Kiwi company to help Tuvalu towards 100% renewable energy goal


25 November 2019

New Zealand renewable energy company Infratec has won a $NZ8.4 million contract with the Tuvalu Electricity Corporation (TEC) that will help the tiny island nation of Tuvalu towards its goal of 100% renewable electricity.

Infratec will design, procure, build and commission a Solar PV (Photovoltaic) facility and battery energy storage system on Tuvalu’s main atoll of Funafuti. Once completed, the project will be Tuvalu’s largest solar and battery storage asset. It will also be a strong foundation for further planned development projects, with Tuvalu targeting 100% renewable power generation by 2025.

About 6,000 people (55-60% of Tuvalu’s population) live on Funafuti. Currently about 85% of the atoll’s electricity is generated by diesel, with some distributed solar supplementing that. The project, expected to be completed by November 2020, is expected to provide about 10% of the island’s energy supply, saving about 360,000 litres of diesel each year.

The project will include 770 kW of Solar PV and at least 1 MWh of battery storage, as well as upgrades to the existing power station controls, which will allow further renewable generation to be added in the future. The system will be designed to minimise the effect of rising sea levels by elevating the equipment above known inundation levels.

Infratec Chief Executive Greg Visser says that alongside the environmental benefits, the project will bring economic and social benefits for local businesses and communities.

“Up to 30 people will be involved in the design and construction of the plant, and Infratec will employ people from the local community for the construction phase wherever possible. We will also provide ongoing training to TEC employees who will operate and manage the plant following commissioning.”

Infratec has also committed to work with local communities to deliver a programme to help reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infection and diseases, in particular HIV and Aids.

“We are delighted to be working on a project that will deliver such meaningful benefits, and that is helping Tuvalu towards its goal of being 100% renewable by 2025,” Greg Visser said.

“This is the kind of work Infratec relishes doing — delivering innovative renewable energy solutions to create positive impacts for communities, businesses and the planet.”

The contract is financed by a US$ 9.1 million grant received by the Government of Tuvalu from the International Development Association (The World Bank) and the Small Islands Development States DOCK Support Program Multi Donor Trust Fund, toward the cost of implementing the Tuvalu Energy Sector Development Project.

This project is Infratec’s third in the island nation, with a rooftop solar and battery storage system project currently being completed for the Tuvalu Fisheries Department, and having previously delivered a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade contract to install a roof-top solar system on two of the Government of Tuvalu’s buildings in Funafuti.