Tonga trade mission key for NZ solar company

The recent New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC) business mission to Tonga, August 29 to 1 September has emphasised the importance of building strong business relationships in the Pacific. 

Shazad Ibnul, Business Development and Sales Manager – Pacific Islands of PowerSmart NZ.

Shazad Ibnul is the Business Development and Sales Manager – Pacific Islands of PowerSmart NZ Limited, a renewable energy integrator and subsidiary company of Vector Limited, a leading electricity and gas distribution company, who was part of the delegation.

The trade mission attracted representatives from a variety of sectors from health to energy sectors.

Being part of NZTBC’s business mission to Tonga was another opportunity for Mr Ibnul to further relationship building and profiling PowerSmart who are currently awaiting the outcome of a tender process that closed on April 28.  If successful, they will be part of the Tongan Government’s initiative to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2020.

Tonga Power Limited (TPL), as the state-owned electricity utility for the Kingdom of Tonga, issued a tender in April for proposals from interested parties to design, build and operate an up to 6 MW (megawatt) solar farm.

Mr Ibnul said PowerSmart is going through the process with the TPL and their proposed alliance partner, Green Energy Technology (GET) and its Owner/Director Lord Fakafanua.  GET is in the process of applying to Tonga Power Ltd to be an IPP licence holder.  PowerSmart is proposing to be the technology and project delivery partner within the GET consortium, Mr Ibnul said.

“GET is currently one of the shortlisted companies to deliver the proposed 6 MW solar farm in Tonga if successful,” Mr Ibnul said.  If successful, GET will deliver power to Tonga’s grid under a possible 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The proposed model with the Tongan Government is both a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Build Operate and Transfer.

TPL already has around 5.8 MW of solar systems connected into the grid thanks to the 2 MW Matatoa solar farm Project built and operated by China’s Zhuhai Singyes Green Building Technology Ltd connected to the grid in October 2017.  That project cost $4.4 million and was the largest Independent Power Producer investment in Tonga.

PowerSmart through its partner, GET, proposes to design and construct the project and train locals to run and maintain the system.  It will also give ongoing support once the project is complete.  And they can also send a technician or provide remote support as part of this alliance.

Multiple sites have been proposed in Tongatapu and at least 54 hectares are available for development depending on the size of the solar farm required by the utility.

Mr Ibnul underlined the importance of the trade missions such as the NZ Tonga Business Council Mission as a key factor in strengthening existing relationships and formally opening doors to areas that would normally be harder to access on their own.

As the largest integrators of solar energy on to the grid they have won contracts thanks to their proven previous track record.  PowerSmart has built solar power and storage systems in Tokelau, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Northern Cook Islands.  Currently, they are in the midst, of delivering a hybrid project in Niue and have secured a further hybrid energy project in the Cook Islands.

Key relationships built through working with PTI NZ and Chief Investment Officer Manuel Valdez and alongside the NZ Tonga Business Council were crucial.

“Manuel was instrumental in helping with that,” Mr Ibnul said.

Mr Valdez developed a strategic partnership with Mr Ibnul, endorsing PowerSmart NZ to the Pacific Island countries promoting renewable energy projects.

“It is good to see those NZ companies participate in the climate adaptation project in the Pacific islands to alleviate the adverse effects of carbon emissions,” he said.  “This would eventually help mitigate the perennial problem of high costs of oil importation into the Pacific Island countries,” Mr Valdez added.

PowerSmart has built robust relationships over more than 10 years.  During that time, they have switched from residential and commercial to the commercial and utility sectors, focussing on key infrastructural projects.  They are also looking outside of Polynesia’s triangle toward Melanesia, namely Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Hopefully they will know by the end of the year if GET has secured the TPL project.

For more information please contact Manuel Valdez, PTI NZ Chief Investment Officer on manuel.v@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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