Technical Articles

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International Solar Inspections: Fiji

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Over the next two weeks, GSES will be completing the final inspections of a three-part project in the Pacific. GSES was contracted by a Fijian solar installation company to conduct acceptance testing of solar PV systems installed on three remote islands in Fiji.

Many Pacific islands currently rely on diesel generators to supply intermittent power for local loads connected to the distribution networks. Due to the size of these generators and the lack of demand, this power cannot be provided 24 hours a day. The generators consume considerable amounts of fuel and, because of the local conditions, they require maintenance and servicing beyond their regular schedules. The cost to support the ongoing use of diesel generators is therefore the fuel, the costs to ship the fuel to these islands and the ongoing servicing charges.

The installation of these solar systems is expected to significantly reduce diesel fuel consumption on these islands. The systems’ design includes the use of advanced control systems to enable high penetrations of the solar power onto the grid without causing instability or having to use batteries for energy storage. GSES’ role is to inspect and conduct acceptance testing of the installed PV systems: one 225kW system and two x 153kW systems. GSES has completed testing the performance and safety of two of these installations and the final system will be reviewed next week. The acceptance testing requires working onsite for a week to inspect the earthing, cabling, inverters, modules, mounting frames and AC circuitry. Performance measures were also tested including inverter availability and the system’s performance ratio.

The outcome of this project is to determine the effect and management of this level of PV penetration into the diesel grid without batteries or causing grid instability. This system application could pioneer future PV projects around the world. The result will reduce fuel consumption and energy costs for local power consumers and provide improved reliability of power supply.

Fiji is such a beautiful country, rich in culture and spirit. The people are friendly, the weather is hot, and the beaches are warm. If you want to experience a side of Fiji that not many people see, travel off the beaten to one of these remote islands and live like the locals.

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