Pacific island nation re-tenders big solar-plus-storage project

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From pv magazine global

A unit of French energy company Engie which won a big solar-plus-storage tender on Palau has said it remains confident its project will be successful after the government of the Pacific island nation opted to re-tender the scheme for “internal reasons”.

Engie Electro Power Systems (Engie EPS), which had been successful in last year’s procurement exercise, said the re-tender will be finalized on March 15.

“Engie EPS firmly believes that its unique industrial-scale energy storage project was a reference thanks to its state-of-the-art technology, was the most competitive in the first call for tenders won by Engie EPS and remains the best offer,” the company said in a statement. “Engie EPS therefore has every reason to believe that its project will be the one most in line with the expectations of the government of the Republic of Palau.”

The French utility’s local business announced in November it had been awarded a 30-year PPA for its Armonia project – 35 MW of solar power generation capacity and 45 MWh of storage capacity to be coupled with power generation from diesel plants. According to Engie, the project would transform the Palau network into the world’s largest micro-grid, with an installed global power output of more than 100 MW.

All the demand, and then some

The renewable energy generated by the plant was expected to represent a 45% surplus to Palau’s demand. Construction was due to have started by the end of last year, with completion scheduled by the end of this year.

The project was originally developed by U.S.-based GridMarket as part of a public-private partnership with the government of Palau. According to Engie EPS, GridMarket had developed a machine learning platform and predictive analytics capabilities able to plan a comprehensive national transition strategy based on the energy footprint of Palau.

The republic is aiming for 45% renewable energy generation by 2025 and its plan includes a project deployment schedule created using the GridMarket platform. Palau signed a partnership agreement with the U.S. company in October 2017 for proposed project financing structures and targeted implementation programs.

“By implementing solar PV, wind and battery storage, Palau will strengthen its grid, reduce energy costs and emit significantly less carbon,” said the government at the time.