Growing Developments Challenge Power Provider

Oct. 3, 2017, 6:02 a.m.

Growing Developments Challenge Power Provider

A render of Nabou Green Energy Ltd, a biomass plant that has signed a power-purchase agreement with the Fiji Electricity Authority.


The rising crop of property projects around the country have posed challenges for the Fiji Electricity Authority, noted CEO, Hasmukh Patel at a recent presentation outlining developments in the energy sector and its impact on businesses.

“For the last few years, we’ve been really accelerating with rural electrification and we are connecting almost 5000 news customers a year,” he highlighted.

And as certain power lines to commercial hubs reach their capacity in this small island developing state, further upgrading projects are underway for the FEA, who currently supply about 176,000 customers and an additional 5000 new clients annually.

“In 1978, we built a 33,000-vault line from Vuda to Ba and that line has come to end of its capacity,” Patel noted.

“So, before growth in Ba- especially the commercial growth, the Yalalevu industrial area and other industrial areas- we are not able to meet the new demand.

“Therefore, we need to have either new generation in Ba or bring in a very high-voltage line. So FEA is planning $50 million to actually build a new transmission line, which will be built from the existing line that comes from Monasavu into the Western division, and will get off from that line, into Ba. That is to ensure future growth in Ba.”

The FEA is the sole entity authorized to generate, transmit, allocate and retail electricity in the country’s power sector and has sought the partnership of independent power providers to complement its distribution efforts.

“If you look over a 10-year period, in order to meet the demands of electricity for new investments, we will need to make an investment of $2 billion. A certain amount is for the power generation sector and a certain amount in the transmission and distribution network.”

Current IPPs include the upcoming Nabou Green Energy Ltd along the Queens Rd between Nadi and Sigatoka.

The joint venture is being constructed by Korean biomass company, Gimco and has signed a power-purchase agreement with the FEA, as it uses woodchips that will generate 10 megawatts of electricity for Fiji’s Western division.

Patel confirmed that more hydro developments were being considered, and discussions with investors were currently underway for a power purchase agreement with developers of three hydro plants in Fiji’s Central division.

If successful, this IPP will see the production of an additional 30 megawatts of electricity. The FEA is also considering solar plants, confirming that the first of these is an IPP in Nadi, to produce about five megawatts of electricity into the Western division.

“As the future grows, the electricity demand goes up. How do we meet the demand? We need to build new power stations, new plants, so some of your finances needs to be directed to that relation.

“We sometimes forget ageing assets and in the utility business, these assets that we store obviously have life, so we can’t let them run to the ground. You have to look at these ageing assets periodically and replace them.”

A 10-year, rolling, power-development plan has also been mapped out as the FEA sets it sights in achieving 90 per cent of renewable energy by 2025.

In addition to growing real estate projects, exposure to climate change and global warming impacts have made it necessary for Fiji to generate most of its energy from renewable energy sources.

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