Major Environmental Impact Assessment Popua 1MW Solar Farm

Major Environmental Impact Assessment Popua 1MW Solar Farm

Meridian Energy Limited (Meridian) and Tonga Power Limited (Tonga Power) are proposing to build a 1 Megawatt AC photovoltaic solar farm at the Tonga Power generation facility in Popua, Tongatapu. The Popua Solar Farm will generate an estimated 1,700 – 1,900 Megawatt hours annually1 and account for approximately 4% of the Tongatapu’s electricity generation. The generated electricity will directly offset the burning of 250 litres of diesel per Megawatt hour, reducing Tonga Power’s diesel consumption by approximately 425,000 – 475,000 litres and displace around 1,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The proposed solar farm will be constructed on land adjacent to the existing diesel generation facility and the Tonga Maritime Polytechnic Institute. There is no known endangered flora or fauna species occupying the land and it is understood that a large portion of the land has been previously reclaimed. The site has been modified, had several uses and is presently cleared, vegetated with grass and often mowed. It is proposed that the environmental impact of the facility will be minimal and greatly outweighed by the environmental benefits of less diesel burnt to produce electricity and the corresponding reduction of CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases associated with burning diesel. The construction of a solar array will limit Tonga’s exposure to the fluctuating price of diesel oil and be a flagship project for the Tonga Energy Roadmap, progressing the Government of Tonga’s goal of 50% of electricity supplied through renewable energy. Other project sites have been explored, but the land adjacent to the Tonga Power Generation facility is considered most appropriate for this first project because of the robust electrical connection and integration advantages, along with the proximity to Tonga Power’s staff and facilities. The Popua Solar Farm will have a positive and measurable impact on the Tongatapu environment and economy. These key attributes of the project are also expected to translate into social benefits for the people of Tongatapu.

Report completed in cooperation with Tonga Energy Road Map, Tonga Power Limited and Meridian Energy Limited.

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