New Caledonia sees largest ground-mount PV plant completed

Comprised of nearly 1,000 PV panels, the 2.1 megawatt peak (MWp) Helios Bay project was connected to the grid in May, after work began back in May 2009.

Due to its rural location, the 17,000 meter squared plant is equipped with monitoring tools, a weather station and a real-time measuring system, which reports on energy production and carbon dioxide prevention levels. All data is monitored by Tenesol via a remote monitoring system, which automatically generates e-mail alerts. Energy produced by the on-grid system will be purchased by Enercal, New Caledonia’s leading electricity supplier.

Because the system is located on rough topography, Tenesol said it was challenging installing the project. Consequently, instead of using concrete blocks, which would have meant shifting over 30,000 square meters of earth, the company designed what it says is an innovative anchoring system. It declined to go into more details, but did say it intends to deploy it at other sites in Mayotte and Martinique in the near future.

“Ground-mounted systems present unique challenges for reliable and timely construction, particularly when located near to a coastline,” commented Emmanuel Vincent, general manger of Tenesol New Caledonia. “We are delighted to have completed this project, which is the first ground-mounted system of its size in the entire region – even in Australia, there is no equivalent. We are hoping its success will act as a catalyst for further developments.”

Through its subsidiary in Nouméa, Tenesol has been operating in New Caledonia since 1990. In 2007 the company created the island’s first PV installation, on a toll station in Tina.