The past decade has seen massive development and investment in renewable energy, centred around solar electricity and large-scale batteries. With the South Paciﬁc region at the forefront of the effects of global warming due to rising sea levels, the need to reduce carbon emissions in the Paciﬁc Islands is very real. This has led most South Paciﬁc countries to start investing in renewable energy and introducing renewable energy targets.
The situation in Niue
The small island nation of Niue, like many other countries in the South Paciﬁc, has relied on diesel generators for their electricity for decades. Niue has historically been supplied by four 500kVA diesel generators which distribute the electricity via two networks across the island. Over the past decade, this supply has been supported by solar power arrays, which has brought mixed results due to the challenges of balancing the demands of Niue’s electricity grid with the solar and diesel-generated electricity. This resulted in curtailing the solar generation to try and maintain grid stability, which meant that not all solar electricity produced on the island was able to be used.
Vector PowerSmart’s solution
Working with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Niuean Government, Vector PowerSmart designed and built a sustainable generation plant and energy management system for the island, using new solar and battery technology. The 600kW of solar technology has produced 320,000kWh of electricity in the six months since 1 January 2019. Diesel consumption has reduced alongside CO2 emissions.
Practically speaking, this means on sunny days the diesel generators of Niue are often switched off for up to 12 hours. The solar system is connected to a 3MWh lithium ion battery energy storage solution (BESS) connected to the grid at Niue’s power station. Vector PowerSmart’s state-of-the-art energy management system controls the ﬂow of electricity from the diesel generators, solar arrays (old and new) and the BESS to maximise Niue’s use of renewable solar electricity.
This project was implemented in partnership with the Government of Niue and MFAT.
A new energy future for Niue
In 2015 the government of Niue released its Strategic Energy Roadmap, which stated a target of having 80% of electricity produced from renewables by 2025. Vector PowerSmart’s newly implemented energy technology will go a long way to helping Niue achieve this goal by increasing the island’s use of renewable energy.