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Proposed 1 megawatt system could save $330,000 yearly

By Giff Johnson SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 1, 2012) – The government power utility in the Marshall Islands and Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) are in the initial stages of discussing a grant for installing a one-megawatt solar system for the capital, Majuro, to reduce reliance on diesel-fueled electricity.

This would be the largest urban solar project for the Marshall Islands, which has over the past 10 years focused donor-supported solar installations at the household level on remote outer islands.

Japan is mid-way through installing large solar panels on the roof of a portion of Majuro Hospital that when completed will provide about 300 kilowatts of power directly into the power grid.

The new plan with Taiwan is to install a solar panel array over the airport water reservoir pools and feed the power generated into the Majuro electricity grid.

"There are two aims for this project," said Marshalls Energy Company general manager David Paul Monday, "to save MEC money by reducing the use of diesel and to cover the reservoir to reduce evaporation."

Paul said he has had discussions with the Taiwan Embassy in Majuro as well as top ICDF officials in Taiwan about the proposal and they are supportive.

He said the proposal is to install solar panels that can produce one megawatt of power over the water reservoirs and feed the electricity into Majuro’s power grid. The project would involve funding of more than $5 million.

"This would save MEC 300 gallons of diesel per day," Paul said. At current world market prices for diesel, "this amounts to a $330,000 savings for the year." Paul said the project would result in a double savings for MEC because the fuel not used to generate power can be sold to fishing vessels to produce additional revenue for the utility company.

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