GOVERNMENT has announced that Ha’apai and ‘Eua have achieved its monthly target in the actual solar penetration for April 17, 2018.

This is in terms of the total monthly electricity consumption.

The design percentage of electricity generation sourced from solar facility for Ha’apai was 50 percent and it achieved 52 percent. ‘Eua achieved its design target of 18 percent as well.

The Director of MEIDECC’s Energy Division Dr. Tevita Tukunga revealed this during a briefing session on the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) with Members of the Environment and Climate Change Standing Committee last Friday.

He said this is good news as Ha’apai and ‘Eua really picked up quickly in its renewable energy usage. However, he also notes it’s interesting to know their actual solar penetration does not contribute significantly to the overall solar usage in the kingdom.

OIREP commits to Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) goal of 50 percent energy generated from renewables by 2020. Its overall contribution to TERM is 3.2 percent.

The OIREP project is co-funded by DFAT, EU, Denmark and the Asian Development Bank.

Estrellita Fulivai of MEIDECC Energy Department said it comprises of three phases. Phase one involves the installation of solar and effective battery storage in Lifuka, Ha’apai connected to the existing Tonga Power Limited (TPL grid). Its target is to meet 50 percent of the island’s electricity needs or 50 percent diesel savings.

For ‘Eua it is the installation of solar without storage and its target to meet 20 percent of the island’s electricity needs. Under the same program, is the upgrading of Vava’u’s existing SCADA system to improve operational efficiency.

OIREP project phase 2 is the mini grid generation which involves solar installation with effective storage and a back-up diesel generator in Nomuka, ‘Uiha, Ha’ano, Ha’afeva and Niuatoputapu. In Niuafo’ou is the rehabilitation of about 170 existing solar home systems.

Phase 3 is the rehabilitating 100 percent of the existing ‘Eua network and 60 percent of Vava’u’s networks.

On phase four of the project is the rehabilitating of mini grid distribution networks, household meter boxes and household house wiring at the four above mentioned outer islands of Ha’apai. For Niuatoputapu it is the installation of a totally new mini grid distribution network there.

Fulivai said OIREP phase one of the project has been completed last year. Now they are undertaking performance monitoring of the solar plant. For instance they are assessing whether Lifuka’s solar plant reduces or produces 50 percent renewable energy or reduce TPL’s diesel consumption by 50 percent per annum.

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