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Solar System to power a Desalination Plant in the Pacific Island of Nauru

Solar System to power a Desalination Plant in the Pacific Island of Nauru

Solarcity New Zealand has partnered with Panasonic New Zealand to provide a 131 kilowatt peak solar system to power a desalination plant in the Pacific Island of Nauru, the smallest republic in the world. Solarcity chief executive Andrew Booth said the project was one of the largest his company had worked on so far, but he expected similar projects to become more common.

The $4 million project, managed by Hitachi Aquatech, will be completed next month.

As climate change began to impact Pacific islands many were having issues around access to fresh drinking water, with a lot of islands now requiring desalination plants.

Other islands, like the Cook Islands, were spending up to 30 per cent of their GDP on imported diesel fuel, exposing the country to volatile power prices.

Solarcity was under contract from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look at the potential for solar energy in the Pacific. New Zealand taxpayers helped to keep the Cook Islands financially afloat through aid, so the Government was trying to help them balance their payments by cutting their reliance on fossil fuels. Retail electricity in some remote Pacific Islands was more than seven times more expensive than it is in New Zealand, Mr Booth said.

“I would say that all Pacific Island states are aware that they need to start moving away from diesel as an energy source.”

The company was also involved in fact-finding missions in Fiji and Samoa, to look at bringing solar technology to those islands as well.

Solar energy was becoming more popular around the world, and Nelsonians were facing significant power price increases, and solar technology was becoming more economic for homeowners.

The original aim of the Solar Saver Scheme, which the Nelson City Council abandoned last year after low interest, was to give Nelsonians security against energy price rises, he said.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show power costs for Nelson households on average increased $107 in the year to February.

“I think that you’ll find that’s not the end of the power prices that have been planned. Certainly in a city like Nelson which is blessed with being one of the sunniest places in the country then solar is becoming more affordable by the day.”

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