Pacific’s largest solar array opens in Samoa

The largest solar photovoltaic site in the Pacific was opened at the Faleata Racecourse in Samoa today.

It was opened by the New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully and the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr Sailele Malielegaoi.

The event took place on the margins of the UN World Conference on Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), currently underway in Apia.

The solar array at the Falaeta Racecourse site consists of over 8000 panels that will offset the use of diesel fuel through the production of up to 2.2MwP (megawatt peak). It will be the largest source of renewable energy generation in the Pacific and is estimated it will save the Samoan government around $SAT10.5 million annually.

In December 2013, New Zealand signed an agreement with Samoa to contribute $NZ14.5 million towards a Renewable Energy Partnership, including solar photovoltaic installation.

In addition to the New Zealand-funded solar PV, the racecourse area will be used to house two other solar PV farms, to be funded through Japan and private investment. Work has not yet begun on these sites.

The solar array is a result of the Pacific Energy Summit where the European Union committed €25.5 million to renewable energy.

Since 2000, the European Union has devoted just over €100 million to the adoption of renewable energy technologies and to promoting energy efficiency in the Pacific.

Speaking at the opening of the solar farm, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs says reducing reliance on fossil fuels is a "prerequisite for sustainable growth", combined with investment in affordable and reliable alternative energy sources.

"This is a conviction the European Union shares with New Zealand through the Energy Access Partnership, of which this solar photovoltaic farm is an immediate result.

"I commend Samoa and New Zealand for their ambition to produce the largest PV site in the Pacific and to do so in less than 18 months,” Commissioner Piebalgs says.

“Energy sustainability is high on our partners’ agendas across the SIDS.”

nsmith@nbr.co.nz

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