Okinawan electronics company to introduce new photovoltaic system to Solomon Islands

Okinawan electronics company to introduce new photovoltaic system to Solomon Islands

The photovoltaic system developed by Okinawa Kobori Electronics.

October 31, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

From October 31, Okinawa Kobori Electronics will start work on a project to introduce the new utility interactive photovoltaic system that the company has developed to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. The Japan International Cooperation Agency commissioned the company to undertake the project. While the current devices collectively control all the solar panels, meaning that the systems of the existing power conditioners may shut down if problems occur, the company’s new system avoids a shutdown by locating the devices decentrally. The new system allows local residents to restore the devices by themselves.

Okinawa Kobori Electronics developed the system in order to cope with typhoon and salt damage and is promoting it in semitropical islands that share the same issues as Okinawa. A representative of the Okinawa International Center said, “We hope that this technology developed in Okinawa will contribute to solving problems faced by island countries and at the same time serve to promote Okinawan companies.”

With design work already underway, the people in charge of the project visited Solomon Islands from October 31 in order to carry out surveys. From June 2014 the company will install a 500-kilowatt system on sites owned by local electric power companies. They signed a contract with the agency on October 25, and are using budget of about 100 million yen available from official development assistance funding.

According to the agency, the islands currently depend mostly on diesel-electric power generation and local electricity charges are about three times higher than those in Japan. The Solomons decided to adopt this system because it will free them from relying on imported energy sources.

According to Okinawa Kobori Electronics, the current mainstream systems could shut down if the power conditioners malfunction. At the moment restoring them can only be carried out by the electronics companies but the system developed by Okinawa Kobori Electronics avoids a shutdown by connecting their power conditioners to every ten-kilowatt photovoltaic panels. It is easy and cheap to use and protects the power conditioners because the company has already developed the device, which it successfully trialed several years ago. It was not mainstream in the industry to start with, but has gradually become widespread. Okinawa Kobori Electronics has already installed this photovoltaic system in Laos three years ago.

The person in charge of the project said, “We want to take this opportunity to boost our business overseas including in emerging countries.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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