New Zealand funding biggest solar field in the Pacific
The largest solar array in the Pacific will soon be sitting in the middle of a racecourse in Samoa's captial.
The largest solar array in the Pacific will soon be sitting in the middle of a racecourse in Samoa's capital.
It's a a bid to swap Samoa's reliance on expensive diesel fuel for the more sustainable solar energy.
And this week New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has been in Samoa checking on its construction, as Alex Perrottet reports from Apia.
The solar array is in the massive Apia Sports Complex, which in early September, will host the United Nations and three and a half thousand delegates visiting for the historic Small Islands Developing States conference. As well as shoring up security and other assistance for the meeting, New Zealand has committed around $14 million dollars to help Samoa end its heavy reliance on diesel fuel.
The project manager, Fonoti Perelini Perelini, says the installation of 10 thousand solar panels at the racecourse site is all part of a coordinated push to renewable resources.
FONOTI PERELINI PERELINI: Seventy percent of electricity is generated from diesel right now, and that's the focus, is to replace that. We have quite a lot of schemes, including the solar, the new hyrdos that we're building. We also have wind, long term plan we're looking at probably in another 5 or 6 years, 90 percent will be renewable.
Murray McCully says the Treaty of Friendship between the two nations is unique and he has asked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi how else he can help.
MURRAY McCULLY: When something as big as the UN international conference of the year is being hosted here, of course we want to help and of course we want to provide material support. I had a good meeting with the Prime Minister here and he was very positive about the state of preparations.
New Zealand's contribution is a third of the panels, and a Chinese company has recently won a tender for another third, while other private investors in Australia are said to have put their hand up to make up the difference. The panels should be installed by September, but next door, the roof of the gymnasium is already covered in panels, and was switched on last week. It generated 1150 kilowatts yesterday.
The contractor, David Reid, of Reid Technology, says solar power has recovered from its popularity slump and now new devices and greater efficiency with inverters mean it's the way to go for developing countries. But he says despite the heat here, weather will always be unpredictable and there will be challenges.
DAVID REID: The hard part is going to be, if this is in full sun and a cloud comes and it drops away. And the solar farm is quite nearby and it goes from flat knacker and it drops away also. Obviously we are physically close. That is going to be the challenge.
The minister travels today to Tuvalu, where he is due to make a declaration to help the remote outer islands of the tiny nation, before moving on to Kiribati for an Anzac Day dawn service at the Second World War Coastwatchers memorial.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: