Solar PV Power System at USP Marine Campus gets new lease of life

The USP-KOICA grid-connected photovoltaic (GCPV) system at the marine campus has recently been refurbished with the installation of new inverters.
The GCPV system, one of the first to be established in Fiji, was part of a two million dollar grant to The University of the South Pacific under the Korea East Asia Climate Partnership, led by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The system came online in February 2012 and over nine years the system has produced significant savings for USP but has also played a major part in minimizing University’s impact on the environment.  The system on average produces 55,000 units of electricity per annum saving USP about F$21,000 annually while reducing its annual carbon footprint by 27,000kg. This plant supplies approximately 15% of electricity requirements of the marine campus and feeds into the EFL grid when not in local use.
This year, recognising the importance of this investment towards USP’s priority to be more environmentally and financially sustainable, the Vice-Chancellor & President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, approved funding to rehabilitate the system. The rehabilitation project included the replacement of the 8 x 6 kW Solar PV inverters that had reached the end of their design life with two new 3 phase, high efficiency 25 kW inverters.  The work included re-configuration of the PV array strings and general cleaning of the structure and panels.
The work was completed within 2 weeks and the system was successfully recommissioned on the 15th September 2020.The entire project cost was $24,000.
With a payback period of just 1.5 years, Dr Giulio Paunga, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Regional Campuses, Estates & Infrastructure) remarked at how impressed he was at the economic benefits the system afforded, while helping to reduce USPs impact on the environment.
During a small commissioning and technical showing ceremony, Dr Paunga thanked all those involved in the project, including the contractors CBS Power Solutions and KOICA for the initial partnership with USP in 2012 that continues to reap benefits for the USP community to this day.    He also expressed optimism for the potential of future projects to continue to reduced USPs cost of operations and impact on the environment.
Project coordinator, Dr. Atul Raturi, from the School of Engineering and Physics thanked the government of Korea and KOICA for initially funding the project. He also acknowledged the support provided by various sections within USP, the two system Installers-Clay Energy (original installation) and the CBS (rehabilitation).
Dr. Raturi also congratulated Ms. Timaima Marica, a graduate engineer from the School of Engineering and Physics (SEP) who was one of the key members of the installation team. He said he looked forward to seeing more students, especially female, getting involved in the field of sustainable energy.
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