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solarcity in Vanuatu

This week, solarcity NZ’s first containerised ‘Solar Station’ arrives in Vanuatu, as the first of a series designed to power fresh water production for 11,000 people on the islands.

Developed by Kiwi company solarcity NZ for Hitachi, the 50kWp (Kilowatt Peak) solar power system has been built within a modified shipping container and will power the first of two desalination plants for the islands. Dubbed the ‘Solar Station’, the shipping container has been designed to work independently of the grid and provide isolated and developing communities with power to produce safe drinking water and access to solar power.

The two solar-powered sea-water desalination plants will be installed on Ambae Island and Aniwa Island in Vanuatu.

The 50kWp solar PV system will also include 600kWh of battery storage, and 36kW of continuous battery inverter output.

This planned desalination plant will be the first of this size in Vanuatu. The Ambae plant will produce approximately 4,200 litres of fresh water per hour, and the Aniwa plant will produce approximately 420 litres of fresh water per hour.

In 2013, solarcity successfully installed a 131kWp system in Nauru for desalination. Like the Nauru project, the Vanuatu system is funded as part of the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund.

solarcity CEO Andrew Booth says it is exciting to think that people in Vanuatu will start 2014 with the prospect of fresh water, generated by the sun.

"One of our company’s goals is to work on State-of-the-Art solar projects that reduce Pacific Island nation’s dependency on fossil fuels for power generation and desalination," Booth says. "Reliable access to energy lies at the heart of economic development and is crucial to human well-being.

"Reducing the Pacific’s reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy is important to the region’s energy and water security. As climate change starts to impact on the availability of fresh water on the islands, the successful integration of solar and desalination plants will become critical to communities across the Pacific."