NZ solar companies bring fresh water to the Pacific

Kiwi companies Solarcity New Zealand Ltd (SolarCity) and Panasonic New Zealand Ltd (Panasonic NZ) have won a competitive tender to supply a 131kWp (Kilowatt Peak) solar system to power a new desalination plant on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Hitachi Aquatech is managing the US$4million Nauru project and has contracted SolarCity and Panasonic NZ to supply and install the solar system. The companies presented their joint bid to Hitachi Aquatech mid-last year, and the installation is currently underway with final commissioning scheduled towards the end of this month. Also working on the project with Panasonic and SolarCity are ABB, SMA Australia, Clean Technology Partners and Clenergy.

SolarCity CEO Andrew Booth says Panasonic NZ and SolarCity partnered with each other over a year ago, to collaborate on significant projects throughout the South Pacific region.

At this week’s Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, Panasonic NZ and SolarCity will showcase the Nauru project, where they are in the process of installing the 131Kw solar array, funded as part of the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund. The Summit, which is being opened by Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key, has a special focus on renewable energy projects like the one in Nauru.

“Together, SolarCity and Panasonic NZ are aiming to help roll out more cost effective solar projects across the Pacific,” Booth says. “We are primarily targeting large scale State-of-the-Art solar projects to reduce Pacific Island nation’s dependency on fossil fuels for power generation and desalination.

“Reliable access to energy lies at the heart of economic development and is crucial to human well-being,” he says. “Reducing the Pacific’s reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy is important to the region’s energy and water security. As climate change starts to impact on the availability of fresh water on the islands, the successful integration of solar and desalination plants will become critical to communities across the Pacific.”

Panasonic is the world’s largest electronics company and manufactures the world’s top performing solar panel, which is being used to power the Nauru project.

Panasonic NZ NZ Managing Director Stewart Fowler says the Panasonic HIT panels are ideally suited to the Nauru project.

“Panasonic’s HIT panels lead the industry, by being 25% more efficient and offering a conversion rate higher than any other panels, producing around 10% more power per watt,” says Fowler. “Given the specific climate and technical requirements of the Pacific it is vital that governments and aid agencies work with the world’s best engineering teams to maximise the performance and return on the investments they are making.”

Sustainable energy lies at the heart of sustaining economic growth and securing the environmental sustainability of the Pacific. The heavy dependency on fossil fuels is aggravating the Asia Pacific region’s economic vulnerability to volatile energy prices. The New Zealand Government and the

European Union are hosting the Pacific Energy Summit to generate additional investment in innovative solutions for the islands.

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