Vector Powersmart (formerly known as PowerSmart) has completed many projects in the South Pacific since 2012, however none of these projects have involved the level of difficulty of this project with the need to integrate existing and new renewable energy infrastructure while working on a live network. This brought a number of challenges, but the result is that now 28.6% of Niue’s energy needs (measured since May 2019) are being met by renewable generation, saving approximately 130,000L of diesel‚ setting Niue up well to achieve its goal of 80% renewable energy by 2025.
What was done?
There were four parts of the project;
- Working on the existing solar plants to establish communication with the Niue Central Power Station.
- Installing 600kW of solar to increase the islands overall solar capacity to 1.1MW of solar generation. The solar array was installed well inland on high ground to avoid any potential damage from cyclones in the future.
- Installing 0.80MW / 3.15MWh Tesla Powerpack 2 (BESS) at the Niue Power Station to maximise the use of solar on the island and eliminate the need to curtail solar to maintain grid stability.
- Installing Vector PowerSmarts bespoke Energy Management System (EMS) to manage Niue’s electricity grid by balancing the new and existing solar generation, existing diesel generators and BESS. To meet the demands of the Niue electricity grid Vector Powersmarts EMS:
- Controls when diesel generators need to be turned on or off
- Assesses what electricity is being produced by the solar and when to use this directly to power the demands of the grid or when to send it to the BESS
- Assesses how much electricity is stored in the batteries and what actions need to be taken, and turn diesel generators on or off
Essentially it is the central brain talking with the original diesel generators, original and new solar arrays and the BESS to manage Niue’s electricity network. All of this had to be done while working on a live network.
Through the addition of an EMS, BESS and more solar to the network Niue can often operate without any diesel generators running for up to 10 hours at a time - on average the generators are switched off for 5-7 hours per day. Over the last 5 months the total integrated system has resulted in 28.6% of Niue’s electricity coming from solar renewable sources, saving over 130,000 litres of diesel.
Runner-up: Best Off-Grid Renewable System (SEANZ Awards 2019)