The largest solar photovoltaic site in the Pacific was opened at the Faleata Racecourse in Samoa today. The site was opened by the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully and the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr Sailele Malielegaoi. The opening 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 8,000 panels which will offset the use of diesel fuel through the production of up to 2.2MwP. It will be the largest source of renewable energy generation in the Pacific and is estimated to save the Government of Samoa around SAT$10.5m on an annual basis.
The system is a result of the Pacific Energy Summit where the European Union committed €25.5 million (WST 76.33 million) to renewable energy. Since 2000, the European Union has devoted substantial resources of just over €100 million (WST 299.3 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 said: “Reducing reliance on fossil fuels is a prerequisite for sustainable growth, combined with investment in alternative, affordable, and reliable energy sources. This is a conviction which 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.
“Energy sustainability is high on our partners’ agendas across the SIDS. The European Union is the largest donor to SIDS, and will continue to support SIDS, as the relationship between the European Union and SIDS evolves,” Commissioner Piebalgs said.
In December 2013, New Zealand signed an agreement with Samoa to contribute NZ$14.5m towards a Renewable Energy Partnership, including solar photovoltaic installation. In addition to the NZ 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.