commissioning tokaimalo rotuma biofuel waidina
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lokia biogas site
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wai village taveuni hydro monitoring station

It has always been in the interest of the Department of Energy (DOE) to promote the use of renewable energy resources and to harness these resources to provide high quality energy. Fiji is blessed with indigenous renewable energy resources such as water (hydro), wind and solar and these can be developed through sound technologies with minimal environmental impact. There is also a need to reduce Fiji's dependence on imported expensive petroleum products and also reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other climate change initiatives.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has coordinated and implemented various renewable energy projects throughout Fiji. These are mainly mini/micro hydro schemes, solar energy for lighting (solar home systems), water pumps, solar hot water system, solar video, television, refrigeration and steam plant for drying copra etc. The DOE has also installed numerous wind monitoring stations at selected sites in Fiji to assess the potential for wind power generation. If these sites are found to be viable, potential investors and funding for wind power generation will be sought for development.

History of Nabouwalu Hybrid Power System

In the late nineties the Government announced "Energy" as a priority sector for development in its development plans. This not only boosted the role of the DOE but also enhanced its initiative on Renewable Energy Development. In collaboration with the Pacific International centre for High Technology Research (PICHTR) we embarked on a hybrid power project, the first of its kind in the country.

The Nabouwalu Hybrid Power Project was first initiated in 1995 and in October of the same year, three PICHTR engineers met with DOE and visited the Nabouwalu Government Station. In January 1996 the DOE through its Renewable Energy Development Program installed a wind and solar monitoring station at this site to collect the relevant resource data to determine the viability of utilizing wind energy. Foremost the intention of the project was to demonstrate the technical and financial viability of Hybrid Power Systems in Fiji. In November 1996 after the feasibility of the project was ascertained, land lease negotiations began between DOE, Lands Department, NLTB and the landowners. This was to secure land for the construction of the hybrid system.

In May 1997 two local officers (DOE & PWD) visited PICHTR, Hawaii to finalize the design and plans for the hybrid project. The objective of the visit was to nurture and develop expertise in the design and use of renewable energy systems such as wind turbines and solar with diesel generators to provide a secure / reliable 24 hour power supply for our rural and remote communities.

In terms of design, the Nabouwalu Hybrid Power System includes the utilization of wind and solar energy with diesel generators as a backup to the system. The Nabouwalu Hybrid Power System was optimized to produce 80% of the electricity from renewable energy resources (wind and solar) and the balance with diesel generators. The system is designed to provide power to the whole Nabouwalu Government Station and Nabouwalu Village. The Government Station includes a Government Hospital, Post Office, Provincial Council building, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Public Works Department depot and its staff quarters, Police Station and its staff quarters and three shops and other Government Departments, altogether totaling about 100 customers.

Initially, an aid of F$800,000 was provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) to PICHTR for the purchase of the hardware equipment for this project. These hardware items included the wind turbines and its towers, solar array system, inverters, batteries, controllers and accessories. The local costs totaling approximately F$230,000 was used for the civil and road works, construction of power house, purchase of transformers, electric cables and accessories were met by DOE and the diesel generators were provided by the Public Works Department. Summarily the system comprised of the following;

  • Eight 6.7 kW, Bergey wind turbine powered generators;
  • 37.4 kW of photovoltaic modules in a fixed array;
  • 1500 amp hour (6 hour rate), 240 Volt battery;
  • 50 kW Exide battery charger;
  • Power Systems and Controls 100 kVA hybrid rotary Inverter;
  • DC distribution cabinet with attached Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) equipment. Also referred to as DAS; and,
  • Two 100 kVA, F.G. Wilson diesel engine powered generators (supplied by Fiji);
  • Powerhouse enclosing all but the wind turbines and solar array.

The construction and civil works began in July 1997 while the actual installation began in September 1997. The Public Works Department completed the civil and road works and also was responsible for the operation of the project. The DOE had played a monitoring role continued to monitor the performance of the system over the years.

Rehabilitation Works of the Nabouwalu Hybrid Power Project

The Nabouwalu Hybrid Power Station was established with the view to demonstrate the applicability of wind/solar/diesel (generator) hybrid systems for remote area power supplies. In analyzing the problems that plagued the system, it was noted that most of the problems faced were associated with the entity that was operating the project and more so induced through the neglect of the system. Very little was associated with the technology that was being used. Over the years, the technology has undergone leaps and bounds demonstrating that the system is still a viable option for remote area power supply.

In view of the above the DOE carried out an assessment of the Technical, Economic & Financial evaluation of the project with the intention of rehabilitating the system. A tender for the assessment work was undertaken and successfully completed by CBS Power Solutions.

Following the assessment work, the tender for the actual works has also been called and evaluated. As part of the tender, it is also intended that the operation of the project will be undertaken by a private company. Unfortunately, a decision in terms of the actual implementation work (contractor to carry out the works) has yet to be made by the Major Tenders Board.

Nabouwalu Hybrid Power System state of progress:

• Currently defunct with only the diesel gensets producing power on intermittent basis
• Project rehabilitation put on hold pending progress on the development of the Wairiki Biomass power plant
• Funding allocated vired to Renewable Energy Research work.

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