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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Tonga Power Ltd. Commissions Wind Turbine Project
Electric company to use $150,000 turbine along coast

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 5, 2013) – Tonga's first small wind turbine project is expected to be commissioned by Tonga Power Ltd. at Lavengatonga on eastern Tongatapu in April, in a project that aims to collect data and provide experience in wind generation.

The new technology harnesses the energy of the wind by converting it into useable electricity, and could provide another source of clean and renewable energy for Tonga, stated Tonga Power Ltd.

Tonga's sole power supplier has bought its first 11kW wind turbine costing over $260,000 pa'anga [US$150,454] from a Glasgow company, Gaia-Wind, who are experts in small wind turbines, suitable for Tonga's coastal areas.

Tonga Power expects the project will also provide Tonga Power personnel with experience in wind generation in Tonga and provide data to ensure that power can be generated constantly and that there is enough wind resource to make a bigger project feasible.

At the same time electricity will be fed into the grid and although small, any renewable energy generated will help to decrease the volumes of diesel consumed annually.

Wind speeds

In September last year Tonga Power studied the wind speed at Niutoua and committed to establish a 50m high wind mast at the site.

The feasibility study was to record data on the seasonal characteristics of the wind direction and speed, which will assist with the development of Tonga Power Ltd's wind farm in the future.

Tonga Power stated, the wind regime on Tongatapu's eastern side was assessed at 50m height to deliver an average wind speed of 6.5m/s annually.

A wind farm proposed for Niutoua is still under development and would need funding before the implementation of the project.

Renewable energy

John van Brink, CEO of Tonga Power Ltd said on January 30, that this was an important step for the company and for Tonga.

He said that unlike solar power, wind generation is more complex. It requires understanding of rotating equipment and also an awareness of the temperamental nature of the wind.

It will be another step forward in meeting our targets for renewal energy delivery, he said.

Gaia-Wind CEO Johnnie Andringa said they were thrilled Tonga Power had chosen their UK manufactured turbines.

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