Auckland Mayor visits Tonga-New Zealand solar farm project
Friday 06 July 2012
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and a delegation of New Zealand business leaders today visited the Tonga solar farm project, which will become the first utility-scale energy generation facility in Tonga.
Meridian Energy is the lead developer on the project, which is an alliance with Tonga Power Ltd and the Government of Tonga, with funding provided by the New Zealand Aid Programme. Tonga Power and Meridian were pleased to welcome the Mayor, who is leading a mission to strengthen Auckland’s relationships with its Pacific partner countries.
Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland, said “It’s great to see Kiwi companies and our overseas aid programme achieve positive results with projects like the Tonga solar farm, because proper infrastructure is vital for the development of our region – growing the Pacific economy is good for the islands and good for New Zealand”.
Meridian is providing development, engineering, construction and commissioning expertise to the project as well as advice on asset management and maintenance.
Meridian’s External Relations General Manager, Guy Waipara, said “For Tonga, the solar farm is a positive step towards renewable electricity generation as an alternative to importing diesel, and the project is also providing jobs for locals who are developing the essential skills to further develop solar power in the future”.
“Meridian’s involvement leverages our renewable energy expertise, including that which we developed in solar power from building our grid-connected solar facility in California. It’s great to now be using that expertise closer to home, as we look to new opportunities in this space,” said Mr Waipara.
The solar farm is expected to be opened in a formal ceremony involving His Majesty King Tupou VI in late July. It will generate approximately 1880 megawatt hours of electricity per annum, which will meet approximately 4% of Tongatapu’s total electricity demand. The solar farm is being built on land adjacent to Tonga Power’s Popua Power Station, south east of the capital Nuku’alofa.
Tonga Power will be responsible for operating and maintaining the facility. In 2017, full legal ownership of the solar farm transfers to Tonga Power.
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