Lifou is the 5th largest city in New Caledonia, France. Remotely located and off grid, the island wanted to reduce its dependency on diesel generators and switch to both solar and wind produced energy aimed at aligning to a more sustainable and environmental-friendly approach.
The ENGIE Solution: A centralized energy storage with solar farms
In 2017, EEC ENGIE (a subsidiary of the ENGIE Group) and Alizés Energie embarked on a 3-stage renewable energy development programme on Lifou to achieve a 100% renewable energy target by 2020 with the help of integrated, cutting-edge solutions for the zero-carbon energy transition.
The project used solar and wind power to generate electricity, which would eventually replace the diesel generators at the island thermal power plant. Since renewable energy resources are by nature intermittent and dependent on sufficient wind and sunshine to provide stable, green energy to consumers, this meant that largescale, centralized energy storage solutions were necessary.
The first phase of the project consisted in increasing solar power production facilities. Six solar farms were built throughout Lifou island representing a total of 960 kWp (kilowatt-peak) of power, which boosted the previously existing installations (2 solar farms and 1 retractable wind turbine). This resulted in an increase in the annual proportion of energy produced from renewables in Lifou, which rose to 22% in 2018.
During the second phase, the storage unit, which was connected to the high voltage distribution network in 2019, provides 5.4 MVA of power and has a capacity of 5.06 MWh. This supplied Lifou with 100% green energy (with the battery in service and electricity generators turned off) for several hours a day and store the excess energy provided by the solar and wind power plants to return it to the grid when needed, thus reducing diesel consumption.
This also included a new program to increase renewable energy production facilities, which comprises the installation of 2 new wind turbines and a 2,000 kWp solar power plant. This phase of also generated savings of approximately USD 1 billion for the tariff system from the first year of operation onwards.
By the end of the third phase in 2020, all the solar parks were installed and 100% renewable energy was transferred back into the network, saving 3 million litres of diesel and 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This achievement, the first of its kind worldwide, will make Lifou a global model for green energy.