Many of the Pacific Islands are highly dependant on expensive diesel for electricity, which creates a perfect opportunity for offshore renewable energy projects. The Aukland-based firm ARGOenvironmental has begun negotiations with the island of Tongatapu to install a 1-MW oscillating water column (OWC) that collects electricity from turbines driven by compressed air caused by waves. The goal is energy at the cost of around 21 cents per kilowatt hour, which is significantly less than the current cost of 35 cents per kilowatt hour.
Several grant opportunities being offered by the UAE in combination with the need for cheaper power are creating a favorable climate for the project. The current negotiations are focusing on the timeline for when ownership can be transfered to Tonga Power and how maintainable the project will be when situated on an isolated island. Even if a PPA is reached, the negotiations will be far from over, yet all parties involved seem hopeful.
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