At last Friday’s graduation, the Acting Vice Chancellor of USP, Dr Esther Williams challenged USP Cook Islands campus to reduce its reliance on non- renewable energy to close to zero. And the campus’ electrical engineer Ngateina Rani believes that this target can be achieved by 2012.
USP Cook Islands campus is currently consuming 66% less in electricity as a result of energy conservation measures and newly installed solar technology.
USP Cook Islands Campus Electricity Consumption 2006 – July 2011
The graph below tells the story. The first reduction of 33% in electricity consumption happened in late 2007 following an energy audit and the subsequent introduction of energy conservation measures. Implementing these energy saving measures cost $6,000 and the initial outlay was recouped within 12 months.
The second major reduction, resulted from the installation of a 6kW solar grid-tie system designed by local electrical engineer Ngateina Rani. The system includes 24 Sanyo 210W solar panels and 2 SMA inverters, each rated at 3.8kW and capable of a 20A load. This solar grid-tie system has been designed to generate 33% of the campus’ daily load, with any excess electricity exported directly to the grid. After just 2 months, the system is generating on average 17kWh/day despite having no suitable north facing roof. This is expected to increase during long summer days.
The system contains significant room for expansion with additional solar panels. Once these are installed, according to Rani “the campus electricity consumption now running at 33% of 2006 levels can be further reduced towards zero.” Rani has been asked by the University to repeat his pioneering Cook Islands solar project work at USP’s Kiribati and Tuvalu campuses.