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UC installing solar panels providing power to Tongan schools

UC installing solar panels providing power to Tongan schools

September 6, 2012

University of Canterbury has just installed photo-voltaic solar panel systems on five Tongan high schools, professor Pat Bodger said today.

In a project funded by government through Rotary NZ Worldwide Community Services and led by EcoCARE Pacific Trust, the ultimate goal will be to install solar power system in all 36 Tongan schools on 21 different islands.

``The aim of the project was to design and install PV solar power systems in five Tongan high schools to help reduce their electricity consumption and reduce their hefty diesel-fuelled power bills; enabling the savings to be spent on other educational requirements’’ Professor Bodger said.

``We engaged UC students from the Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPEC) and the College of Engineering to design, procure, manage and install the systems. We wanted them to meet their academic objectives and to help the Tongan schools. This was a great opportunity for our students to put into practice their learning in an academic environment and to deal with the day to day issues of undertaking a real project.

In Tonga, the installation was led by UC students who worked with a Tongan contracting company. A goal was to transfer knowledge to the local community. The students also interacted with the Ministry of Education, the Tongan Electricity Commission and Tonga Power Limited.

UC Masters student Shreejan Pandey will talk about the project at the EPEC’s research and development expo and careers convention on campus on September 19. A UC research project, headed by EPEC director Allan Miller, last month received $6.3 million in a government grant to improve the national power grid.

A team from UC’s Wireless Research Centre has also looked into the feasibility of installing low-cost, high band width wireless technologies to link the five Tonga schools with audio-visual communications systems.

ends

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