European Union renewable energy commitment practices what it preaches

The European Union Office by the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Sogi, Samoa showing the Solar Panels and EU flag

APIA: MONDAY 31 AUGUST 2015: Last year the European Union (EU) installed Photovoltaic Panels on the roof of its Office in Samoa. The consequences have been profound and demonstrate the EU’s commitment to Renewable Energy and saving its tax payers money.

On 2ndSeptember 2014 the former European Union Commissioner for Development, Mr. Andris Piebalgs, commissioned a 17kw grid tied Solar Panel installation on the roof of the European Union Office in Samoa. One year later an evaluation of this system has been undertaken.

John Stanley, Head of the European Union Office in Samoa said, “The installation of the Solar System, which cost SAT 114,875 (EUR 37,500), had to be justified entirely economically without taking into account any political benefits. With electricity costs in Samoa being higher than those in any EU-Country, even without additional subsidies/incentives, it was very easy to justify the installation on purely economic grounds”. He added: In addition to commissioning the system last September, a power purchase agreement was signed with the Electric Power Company. This agreement provides the legal basis for the transmission of electricity onto the National Grid from the solar array. During the signing ceremony, Commissioner Piebalgs stated that, “Not only does Renewable Energy make environmental sense but it can also make sound economic sense, especially in specific locations such as Samoa, where fossil fuel costs can be very high and sunshine is abundant”.

One year later, analysis shows that the optimism from a year earlier was entirely warranted. From when a smart meter was installed at the end of December 2014 the electricity produced from the EU Solar Panels has actually yielded better results than expected.

In economic terms, and based on the electricity usage before the installation of the panels, this will mean that the panels will have saved the EU tax payer SAT 25,000 (EUR 9,000) this year resulting in a basic payback period for all the equipment of just over four years, when the solar panels have a guarantee for at least 20 years!

“The results are very impressive and speak for themselves, saving the EU tax payer money and complementing the Government’s commitment to achieve 100% renewable electricity production by 2017,” stated EU Ambassador for the Pacific H.E. Andrew Jacobs. “The EU is a leader in renewable energy globally with it having committed EUR 100 million in the Pacific since 2000 to the adoption of renewable energy technologies and promoting energy efficiency in the Pacific. We also have committed a further EUR 4.5m to the installation of Micro hydropower plant in Samoa, a programme implemented together with the Asian Development Bank and New Zealand Aid. One can see that not only does the EU speak about the need for a low carbon economy but it also, more importantly, practices what it preaches.”

H.E. Andrew Jacobs speaking at the signing ceremony of the Power Purchase Agreement with the Electric Power Company on the 2nd of September 2014 with Commission Andris Piebalgs (right) and John Stanley (left).

H.E. Andrew Jacobs speaking at the signing ceremony of the Power Purchase Agreement with the Electric Power Company on the 2nd of September 2014 with Commission Andris Piebalgs (right) and John Stanley (left).

 

Background The System installed in the EU office is Grid Tied to the National Grid meaning that when electricity in excess of that consumed by the office, is produced it is exported to the National Grid. During the night and when office electricity consumption exceeds what is being produced by the panels then the electricity deficit is taken from the National Grid.

The EPC credits the EU account with 60% of the fuel surcharge (SAT 0.22 to 0.30 per kilowatt hour) when electricity in excess to the demand of the EU office is put into National Grid. The EU Office in Samoa is in credit to the EPC for SAT 556.46 as of August 2015.

No batteries are used.

The EU office in Samoa consists of five offices with normally five AC units working during office hours. One AC Unit and the server function 24/7. Before the installation of the Solar Panels we were using on average 2022 units per month.

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