New South Wales-based renewables company MPower is set to build its largest energy storage project to date, after securing the contract to design and install a 5.6MWh battery system in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands in the Pacific.
The $A4.1 million battery energy storage system – which will be larger than any grid-connected BESS currently in Australia – will be added to the 1MW Te Mana Ra solar PV facility, to create one of the largest solar energy storage systems in the Pacific.
The addition of battery storage will help maximise the benefits of the grid-connected solar plant, while also giving the island’s electricity utility more flexibility to manage the increasing amount of renewables coming onto the grid.
Like many Island nations, the Cook Islands has traditionally been dependent on polluting and increasingly costly diesel-power stations, making the rapid transition to renewable energy all the more urgent, economically and environmentally.
MPower’s lithium-ion battery storage solution is a key addition to the Island’s Renewable Energy Sector Project, which has the backing of the Asian Development Bank, European Union and Global Environmental Fund.
This is not MPower’s first foray into the Pacific Islands, however, the company having successfully bid in 2015 to deliver a fully operational 5MW solar power plant across two sites in Samoa, with a total value of approximately $14 million.
On the company’s home turf, it was selected to install around 800kWh of battery storage at the University of Queensland-owned 3.2MW Gatton solar power plant – at the time believed to be Australia’s biggest grid-connected battery storage system.
Prior to that project, MPower worked with also working with Rio Tinto and First Solar in the remote Queensland town of Weipa, to build an ARENA-supported 1.7MW solar PV project to power a remote bauxite mining operation.
To win the Cook Islands project, MPower drew on its experience of working with unique and remote locations to design a system that can be easily maintained by local operators.
“MPower’s central role in this landmark large-scale energy storage project is a testament to the skill and capability that has been developed,” said Nathan Wise, the CEO of MPower’s ASX-listed parent company, Tag Pacific Limited.
“We’re pleased to be able to deliver new era energy to the Cook Islands, employing the latest technologies and building on the renewables program that is well underway.”
MPower says its system will be physically and operationally modular and capable of standing up to high temperatures and humidity; corrosive environments; and seasonal storms.
Once the system is designed and built, MPower will work with a local contractor on the installation to bring employment to the region, with a tentative completion date of the first half of 2018.