NZ and UAE inaugurate Solomons' solar farm
New Zealand and the UAE complete a major solar array project in Solomon Islands.
New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates have today inaugurated a new solar power farm in Solomon Islands.
It is one of a number of Pacific states where the two nations have worked together to help ease Pacific countries off their reliance on diesel generation for electricity.
Don Wiseman spoke to New Zealand's Pacific economic ambassador, Shane Jones, just after he had made a speech at the inauguration and began by asking him about the size of the project near Honiara's Henderson Field Airport.
SHANE JONES: Yes we are on the outskirts of Honiara, solar energy farm that has been inaugurated today, 400 kilowatts were funded by New Zealand, 600 kilowatts by the UAE, it is quite a significant installation in terms of the Solomon's. It will contribute up to four percent of the energy needs of the nation and probably saves them about a million bucks kiwi per year then reducing importation of Diesel.
DON WISEMAN: What has New Zealand contributed financially to that?
SJ: Capital two million dollars, UAE about four million dollars. The output as I said will be up to a Kilowatt. Forty or fifty youngsters in Solomon Islands have learnt very valuable building, construction energy related skills. The contractor the head contractor out of Fiji and a lot of the services are being provided by local Honiara based businesses. So a fair degree of the money we are talking about has been pumped back into the local economy. The technology is a split between solar panels out of Asia and the more technical aspects to the infrastructure based out of Germany.
DW: What about in terms of the ongoing maintenance because that is an issue isn't it with solar farms.
SJ: Indeed a key challenge that has to be dealt with is as they introduce solar energy into the system, it doesn't increase volatility. A lot of these Pacific Island energy infrastructure systems they need constant maintenance there are often problems with leakage. There have been problems with illegal taking. But I think it is fair to say that the Solomon's energy authority they have employed a very competent chap out of Tasmania and they seem to be approaching it as if they were servicing first world clients.
DW: It is one of a number of projects I understand that New Zealand is involved with with the UAE around the Pacific?
SJ: Yes one might think it is slightly incongruous because, geographically, it is so far separated UAE and New Zealand but if one thinks back to the energy summit that was held during 2011 the recent SIDs conference. There was evidence there that the UAE had considerable enthusiasm working with New Zealand on infrastructure projects and solar energy cries out for utilisation because one thing Melanesia has is inordinate amounts of sunshine.
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