“Regionally, it is the first plant of this size ground. Even in Australia, there is no equivalent”, commented Mike Vincent, Tenesol Head in New Caledonia.
In New Caledonia, many discussions are underway to find the best energy mix for the region. The particularity of places, its remoteness from major power grids urges to find alternatives such as using solar photovoltaic, given the rate of sunshine in the region.
With a very favorable rate of sunshine (over 1,900 h / year) and low precipitation (less than 80mm per year), the site of Helios Bay is located on the seafront – ideal place because it benefits from natural ventilation of trade winds. At 40 km from Noumea, the peninsula on which the plant has been installed on behalf of the Helios Bay company has a specific topography. Traditionally, the central ground implies a determination of structures with concrete blocks. In the case of Helios Bay, that would have involved over 30 000 sq m of land.
In order not to spoil the land and meet the requirements of the natural topography, Tenesol experts focused their choice on a floor attachment made with anchors. This solution has the advantage of allowing easy dismantling of the structure when, by 25-30 years, the plant footing needs to be changed. The choice of anchors will be deployed on other projects in Mayotte and Martinique shortly.
With 9,560 solar panels and 239 structures, an area of 17 000 sq m of sensors, Helios Bay central is a project carried out between May and December 2009, date of connection to the local power grid. The installed capacity of 2.1 MWp took nearly 85 km of cables and up to 40 technicians for eight months, about 20,000 hours.
The ground station has a producible 3 million kWh, or the energy consumed by 1,000 homes in one year!
The central Helios Bay is a project called “connected to the network, which will inject into the local electrical grid electricity produced. In New Caledonia, it is Enercal (manager of the distribution of electricity – the equivalent of EDF in France for example) that will purchase the production of Helios Bay, then to distribute to customers network, near the site.
With monitoring tools, the station has a weather station and the bodies of real-time measurement, and is connected to expert maintenance by remote control line, and email alerts. The reporting tools allowing you to visualize the accumulated production, the energy meter, but also an eco-comparison that highlights the production of CO2 avoided by the use of solar energy.
“This plant is a new ground opportunity to demonstrate our know-how acquired over 26 years of work,” says Benoit Rolland, CEO of Tenesol. Helios Bay is indeed regarded as a pilot project for the territory in which the New Caledonian authorities have also involved: “This project is the first Tenesol deals in Helios Bay, and we hope to conduct several others,” says Emmanuel Vincent.