King commissions largest multi-million solar farm in Tonga

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His Majesty King Tupou VI, Hon. Poasi Tei (Minister of Public Enterprises), Carl Sanft (Chairman of the Combined Utility Board) during the ceremony. Photo/Tonga Power Ltd

A TP$9 million new 2-megawatt solar farm in Tonga was commissioned by His Majesty King Tupou VI yesterday at Matatoa, Tofoa.

The largest solar farm to be installed in the kingdom consisted of 7440 solar panels and it covered 6.3 acres.

Chinese company Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology funded the project after an agreement signed with the Tongan government in 2016.

It is expected to generate over 2,828,84 kWh of electricity over the first year of operation which is an equivalent of 680, 000 litres of diesel which could be saved in its first year of operation.

“The solar plant alone is expected to add another 5% towards the nation’s renewable energy target”, said the Minister for Public Enterprises and MEIDECC, Hon. Poasi Tei.

Carl Sanft, the Chairman of the Combined Utility Board said, “To date 12% of the renewable energy target for Tonga has been achieved”.

“ The project, permitted by Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology, is selling all the electricity generated from the plant to Tonga Power Ltd to assist the Government with the 50% renewable target by 2020 at TOP 0.33 per kWh which will remain the same for the next 25 years”, said the Chairman of the Utility Board Mr. Carl Sanft.

“ In order for TPL to help the Government achieve 50% renewable energy generation by 2020, grant financed investments of between US$32-$35 million is needed to help generate an additional 43% in renewable energy penetration through investments in solar, wind farms, as well as installation of much needed battery storage. This means that we can reduce the power tariff by 20 to 30 seniti per kWh”.

“The Government of China and Tonga Power Ltd have also commenced a dialogue, for the installation of a 2 Megawatt wind power generation project in Tonga and the Government of Japan had granted funding for a 1.3 MW wind generation project”.

“By engaging an Independent Power Producer like Zhuhai Singyes, it contributes to the energy sector achieving its goals by utilizing third party investments in clean electricity generation”, said Tonga Power’s CEO, Robert Matthews.

In his address to the gathering, His Excellency Mr. Wang Baodong congratulated the effort by Tonga Power Ltd and the Government of Tonga.

“It is good to see the interest that the people of China have invested in Tonga in the energy sector and we look forward to more Renewable Energy in the future”.

The Chairman of the Utility Board, Mr Carl Sanft, acknowledged the support from the development partners such as the Government of Australia, China and Japan as well as the European Union and the Asian Development Bank, Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology Co. Ltd and private investors for their support towards Tonga’s Renewable Energy Target.

Honourable Poasi Tei acknowledged Sam Leung, the Deputy CEO of Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology, CCECC, JH Electrical, T.E.A.M Power, SPS, Kramer, Ausenco and AECOM New Zealand Ltd for their contributions towards building a more resilient and prosperous Tonga.

The ceremony was also attended by the Ministers of the Crown, Ambassadors, church leaders, overseas visitors and distinguished guests.

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