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Pacific island training

GSES trainer Aaron Bonanno (right) overseeing the training installation.

September saw the conclusion of the recent IRENA-funded grid-connected photovoltaics (PV) training in the Pacific, which was coordinated by PPA and SEIAPI and delivered by GSES. GSES conducted a total of 6 training sessions in 5 island nations for both power utility and private industry personnel. The final two sessions took place in the Kingdom of Tonga and The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

The Tongan training took place on the main island of Tongatapu at Tonga Power Ltd’s head quarters in Nuku’alofa. The training included the construction of a new PV system, designed and built by the students, which can be used for future training. A site inspection of a Japan-funded 1MWp grid-connected PV system, which was mid-way through construction, was included as part of the training.

GSES trainers also recently traveled to the capital of RMI, Majuro, to conduct a 3-day grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system training course with the aim of building local installation skills.The RMI has already been dramatically affected by climate change and will be one of the first nations to be flooded if sea levels rise as predicted. The country is doing all it can to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, while at the same time improving access to electricity across its dispersed population.

The Marshall Islands Energy Company (MEC) has deployed several standalone power systems for lighting and basic electrical services to the outer islands and is experienced in installing solar power systems with battery storage. However, fossil fuels are still the main source of power. Majuro has seven diesel generators, which supply an approximate peak load of 7MW. MEC is looking to install small rooftop solar power systems to offset the increasing price of diesel. Currently, the law in RMI prohibits the installation of residential solar power and MEC is lobbying to change this. GSES worked with MEC to train four local electricians in the design and installation of residential grid-connected PV systems, and local capacity will continue to build over time.
The RMI students and MEC electricians with GSES trainers Aaron Bonanno (bottom right) and Reneil Sabater (third from top right).
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