USP, France assist in installation of Fiji solar refrigeration project
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Mr Vinal Prakash, USP Physics graduate assistant hands over to Mr Kelevi Walenavunau, Turaga-ni-Koro of Yanuca after the installation of the project as villagers look on.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Engineering and Physics (SEP) assisted in the installation of a solar refrigeration project on Yanuca Island in the province of Serua in Fiji.
Yanuca is a small island located in the South West of Deuba, approximately 20 km away from the main island of Viti Levu where there is only one village with thirty nine families (39) and a total population of about two hundred (200) people.
Mr Vinal Prakash, USP Physics graduate assistant worked with CBS Power Solutions to design and install two solar photovoltaic system driven deep freezers in the village community hall.
Dr Atul Raturi, Associate Professor from the School of Engineering said the complete system comprises 1 kW solar panels, 600 AH Battery storage, a 2.3 kW inverter and two 200 litre deep freezers costing about FJD 24, 000.
He said the project was funded through a French Embassy supported programme titled Sustainable Energy for Sustainable Development.
“The system was installed by the CBS Power Solutions and commissioned on 18 November, 2016. This installation is the second one in a series of four planned at various locations in Fiji,” Dr Raturi explained.
According to him, the implementation of this project would help the village fishermen to store their catch for a longer period of time and bring it to the mainland when economically convenient.
“One of the main aims of this project was to study the socio-economic impact of renewable energy based interventions on island communities. This installation is a component of Vinal’s Master of Science research project investigating strategies for providing island communities with renewable energy,” Dr Raturi noted.
He acknowledged the French embassy for their continued support under the Pacific Funds programme.
While receiving the keys to the freezers, Mr Saimone Baleiwai, Acting Roko Tui from the Serua Provincial Office joyfully announced, “We are happy to receive these refrigerators as this would boost our economy, by helping us store fish and make ice as well.”
He thanked the project proponents “for the initiatives which will be of great benefit to the people of Yanuca.”
Fishing is the main source of income for most of the community members.
Being away from the electricity grid, traditional fuel has been the source of energy for most of the villagers.
With no ice-making or refrigeration facilities due to lack of electricity, a major challenge for the villagers has always been to store their catch safely. The only option has been to get ice from the mainland and then carry the catch back to Deuba using their boats.
Dr Raturi said this is very expensive and becomes quite uneconomical. On certain occasions, the catch has to be discarded if the boats are not available to transport the fish to mainland.
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