In early 2021 VES proudly launched a pilot solar project with Fiji Ports Corporation Limited. We installed a preliminary solar PV system atop an office building. Over time the plan is to energize the port’s operations via sustainable renewable energy. Helping the port go solar will propel the organization toward its corporate vision, “To be the Smart, Green Gateway for trade in the Pacific Region.”
Our involvement in this potential long-term project is very timely. Right now governments throughout the Pacific Islands are working toward decarbonization. The region currently imports 95% of its fuels. Therefore, dependence on foreign fuel imports severely affects energy supply and costs for all industries. In Small Island Developing States (SIDS) shipping and transportation are crucial for travel, food, and supplies delivery, employment, and connections to the world. Disruptions in these industries have major impacts on social, trade, and economic development.
The Suva port handles 54% of Fiji’s export and import cargo. Thus it is the ideal location to evaluate potential reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by generating green renewable energy on-site. After a thorough site evaluation and project feasibility study, we recommended a 14 panel 6kWp on the staff operations office. The building, like many at the Fiji Ports, is constructed from refurbished 40-foot shipping containers. Our main contact during the project was Mr. Akila Abeyrathne, Senior Maintenance Engineer, Fiji Ports Corporation Limited. He confirmed how important this project is to their organization, “Our organization takes sustainability seriously and we hope to add more renewable energy projects to our operations soon.”
Due to the close proximity to the ocean shore, extreme weather resilience was the top priority for our team of system designers. We decided to partner with a consulting engineering firm, to mitigate potential high winds and corrosive water conditions. The joint team was up for the challenge to ensure the system was strong enough to endure the most intense storms and comply with all national and regional standards.
Kini Koroi and Ernest Hickes, the VES design and installation team shared the biggest challenge they faced on this project. Koroi, VES Installation Manager explained, “Designing a system to meet Cat 5 Cyclone certification requirements was difficult.” Hickes, VES Solar Engineer, was quick to add, ”Absolutely! Partnering with expert structural engineers to review and interpret the many applicable codes and standards was key to ensure we were in compliance with all regional and national requirements and successfully obtained the certification.”
Praneet Kumar, the structural engineer from NRW Macallan (Fiji) Ltd that designed the solar panel mounting system explains, “The framing structure was designed to withstand wind forces generated during a Category 5 cyclone. A high-grade aluminum that has never been used in solar projects previously was chosen for its superior strength. The metal was also treated with a protective coating to maintain its strength throughout the anticipated 25-year system life span. Proprietary connectors and bolts were used to securely fasten the panel racking to the shipping container rooftop. We are confident this is a solid structure that will endure extreme weather.”
VES has successfully completed another commercial solar project hopes other organizations follow Fiji Ports’ lead. If your facility is interested in a free feasibility study, please let us know.