29 | 04 | 2017


Greening the Islands Awards candidate: SMA technology helps Tongan islanders harvest the sun and reduce diesel dependence

The Tongan island of Vava’u in the South Pacific Ocean has traditionally relied on expensive diesel for its electricity generation, even though it basks in 1,500 hours of sunshine annually.

Today, thanks to technology from German company SMA, the island is getting about 13% of its annual electricity demand from solar energy and up to 70% of peak consumption in the middle of the day. The project means lower energy costs for the island and a reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

The greening of this Pacific island was made possible by a $5 million grant from the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC). Ingenero constructed a 500-kilowatt ground-mounted solar farm on the island incorporating 21 SMA Sunny Tripowers as well as battery storage technology.

The advantage of the hybrid solution is that the solar farm is fully integrated into the island’s existing energy infrastructure, by its nature isolated from other networks. The 15,000 inhabitants of this archipelago reduce their diesel usage by 225,000 liters a year while greenhouse gas emissions are cut by 440 tonnes annually.

“The SMA Fuel Save Controller intelligently controls the PV diesel hybrid system,” the company explains. “By interacting with SMA inverters, it coordinates the demand-based control of optimized photovoltaics feed-in. The Fuel Save solution provides a secure energy supply with maximum efficiency.”

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