This New Zealand-funded project consists of three standalone PV hybrid systems with battery storage located on Tokelau’s three atolls called Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. According to New Zealand-based PowerSmart, the lead contractor of the project, each of the three individual systems is among the largest off-grid solar power systems in the world.
Detailed design work, procurement, sample system building, testing, proprietary software development and planning was performed in PowerSmart’s facilities from January to May 2012, and construction began in mid-June 2012. The systems were installed by PowerSmart. The first system, on Fakaofo atoll, was switched on in early August after a nine-week construction period. The following system on Nukunonu atoll was connected in mid-September, and the third and final system on Atafu atoll was commissioned towards the end of October.
The project utilises 4,032 PV modules, 298 SMA inverters, 121 SMA Sunny Island Chargers and 1,344 batteries. Specifically, the PV systems were equipped with 93 Sunny Island inverters, which control the standalone systems on the three coral islands, and 205 Sunny Boy inverters, which convert the direct current produced by the PV modules into alternating current. The New Zealand government provided NZ$7.5 million (US$6.3 million) through its New Zealand Aid Programme to help finance the project. Official commissioning took place on 30 October 2012 at a local ceremony.