Vanuatu gets new ‘solar station’


Vanuatu last week received a containerised ‘solar station’, the first of a series of solar power generators that will help produce fresh water for people. This first solar station will help produce fresh water for some 11,000 islanders.<!--more-->

Developed by Kiwi outfit SolarCity NZ for Hitachi, the solar power system has been built within a modified shipping container and will power the first of two desalination plants for the islands. The two solar-powered seawater desalination plants will be installed on the country’s Ambae and Aniwa Islands.

Dubbed the ‘solar station’, the shipping container has been designed to work independently of the grid and provide isolated and developing communities with power to produce safe drinking water and access to solar power. The 50kWp (kilowatt peak) solar PV system will also include 600kWh of battery storage, and 36kW of continuous battery inverter output.

This planned desalination plant will be the first of this size in Vanuatu. The Ambae plant will produce approximately 4,200 litres of fresh water per hour, and the Aniwa plant will produce approximately 420 litres of fresh water per hour.

In 2013, SolarCity successfully installed a 131kWp system in Nauru for desalination. Like the Nauru project, the Vanuatu system is funded as part of the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund.

SolarCity CEO Andrew Booth said, “One of our company’s goals is to work on State-of-the-art solar projects that reduce Pacific Island nations’ dependency on fossil fuels for power generation and desalination. Reducing the Pacific’s reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy is important to the region’s energy and water security.”