American Samoa Manu‘a Island Group Now 80% Powered By Solar

Ofu Solar Park project went live on Earth Day

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 5, 2017) – The Manu’a island group is now powered by solar energy after yesterday’s commissioning of the multi-million-dollar Ofu Solar Park project, which went live on Earth Day, Apr. 22, powering — at this time 80% — of Ofu and Olosega islands.

ASPA Executive Director Utu Abe Malae told Samoa News on Wednesday that the American Samoa Power Authority hired ten “temporary skilled workers” from Ofu, Olosega and Sili villages during the course of the project, which was contracted to Pacific Solar Innovations.

“I am proud of the Ofu-Olosega-Sili workers who did all the hard work,” Utu said Wednesday afternoon, before heading to Ofu yesterday morning on a charter flight along with other VIPs including Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga.

The total cost of the Ofu solar project amounted to $2.5 million, funded with $1.3 million from USDOI and $1.2 million from ASPA, said Utu.

“American Samoa Adds another Advanced Microgrid to the Pacific,” says a headline in a pre-commissioned statement from ASPA, which late last year commissioned the solar project on Ta’u Island in Manu’a.

Prior to yesterday’s commissioning event, ASPA and local company Pacific Solar Innovation had already started powering Ofu and Olosega on Apr. 22 — Earth Day — which is when the solar power went online for the two remote islands, that were previously powered exclusively by diesel fuel that had to be shipped from Tutuila.

Utu says shipping diesel fuel to the Manu’a islands “is fraught with risk — of oil spills and shipping interruptions. Renewable energy will eliminate those risks as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions on our islands.”

Yesterday’s public commissioning ceremony celebrates “the latest advanced microgrid making the Manu'a Islands some of the most renewable energy powered islands in the world.”

This solar PV microgrid consists of a 350 kW solar PV array, 1.2 Megawatt battery with 1,000 kWh storage, and three new fuel efficient diesel generators which should lower the consumption of fuel used to power the two islands by over 80%, according to ASPA.

“One of the unique components of this advanced microgrid is that it uses a battery that is made with one of the cleanest and most abundant resources on earth: saltwater,” Utu said. “The battery is also non-toxic, non-flammable, non-explosive, environmentally friendly, and 100% recyclable at the end of its life.”

Utu told Samoa News late last year that there are 124 ASPA customers for Ofu and Olosega islands and 231 on Ta’u island.

The Ofu solar PV microgrid was built by ASPA, and Pacific Solar Innovations was the contractor that was awarded the project by ASPA and USDOI to design, engineer, and procure the microgrid as well as assist ASPA with construction.

According to ASPA, this project is the first phase of construction for these islands with the ultimate goal of powering the islands by 100% renewable energy following the governor’s mandate and vision to power the Manu'a Islands by 100% renewable energy and then all of American Samoa by 2040.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Besides the ten temporary hired skilled workers, there were five ASPA key workers on the project site.

Phase 1 of the project called for the installation of a 350kW Solar PV Array and a 250 kW/1,000 kWh Battery storage system - to supply 80% of Ofu's energy needs.

Another 150 kW of PV panels and 500 kWh of storage batteries will be added during Phase-2 of the project, which would make Ofu 100% renewable. The second phase is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2017.

ASPA will begin a demand side management (DSM) project in Ofu and Ta'u later this month, said Utu, adding that DSM project involves the replacement of lighting in homes, schools , businesses and government buildings across Manu'a and will be at no cost to customers.

The Samoa News
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