Fiji to boost renewable energy generation

20/04/2012

Fiji’s Nadarivatu Renewable Energy Project, located on the remote headwaters of the Sigatoka River on the main island of Vitu Levu, is soon to be commissioned after extensive trials over the past several weeks. <!--more-->When commissioned, it will generate an additional 42 MW (megawatts) of power, enough to meet some 20 per cent of the island’s electricity needs.

Initiated in 2009, the project employed 465 workers (150 of them Fijian), cost US$150 million and took nearly 36 months to complete. The 42-MW power station comprises two turbines, generating an estimated 103 GWh of electricity annually.

It also includes a 30 metre-high concrete gravity dam, including three radial gates and two sluice gates and some 2 kilometres of tunnels. A 132-kV, 5 km transmission line connects to the existing Fiji transmission system through a switching station.

Nadarivatu is not Fiji’s first hydro project, however. The country’s largest, Monasavu, has been in existence since 1983 and produces 83MW, being much larger than the new project. But the construction of the project presented great challenges because of its extremely remote location, which did not have a motorable road before the project was initiated.

Since the development of the Monavasu Hydro Scheme in the 1980s, the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) has used Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to provide the capital investment to augment its renewable energy programme. IPPs involve a partnership between private companies and the FEA to provide up-front capital for projects. Once the projects are completed, power is sold back to the FEA over a fixed-term contract at an agreed-upon price.

The project was funded through a balance of FEA capital, commercial loans and an additional loan from the Chinese Development Bank, which was arranged by Chinese power company Sinohydro.

In addition to the Nadarivatu project, there are several other hydro projects in the pipeline including an upstream augmentation to Nadarivatu that would provide an additional 30 MW of power and an additional 8 MW to the Monasavu scheme. Other planned projects will add more than 25 per cent additional energy generation from hydropower to the country’s energy grid.

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