The Solar Powered Tokelau Islands – $8.5 Million Project

Ivan Andrews / June 20, 2013

A New Zealand territory comprising of three coral reef based islands deep in the Pacific is all set to become the first solar powered territory in the world. As per an official release by the Foreign Affairs Minister in New Zealand, the Tokelau Renewable Energy project is the one of its kind in the world and its three main atolls have solar capacity enough to sustain the island.

Prior to the initiation of this idea, the 1500 people of Tokelau Island were using around 2,000 barrels of diesel each year to meet their annual power needs. This was costing the island a whopping $825,000 every year.

In the words of Michael Bassett Smith, the managing director of Power Smart Solar, the company which initiated the idea of solar energy for the entire island group, the electricity expenses were increasing with each passing year and made a major portion of the budget that came for the development of Tokelau Island.

This in his words made things look bleak for the future and investors were shying away from investing in this remote island chain.

Innovative idea

This idea of going in for solar energy will not only help cut costs but will also make for a healthy and a cleaner climate, thus help tackling the menace of global warming and climate change in the region. It is noteworthy to mention here that Tokelau is made of three atolls, namely Nukunonu, Atafu and Fakaofo. Each of these islands now has its own mini solar grid, thus helping achieve self reliance in real sense. The finances involved in the initiation of this program were of the tune of $8.5 million but the same will be recovered in due course of time, given the imminent benefits the region will derive from this concept.

It was originally conceived that this solar power concept will be able to cater to around 90 percent electricity needs of these island groups but the results were amazing for the critics too. The solar panels actually met over 150 percent electricity needs of Tokelau Islands, thus ushering instead a spate of economic revolution that is set to change the economy of the region as a whole.

Over 4032 photovoltaic panels, 392 invertors and 1344 batteries have been put to work across the three atolls. As expected, around one Megawatt of electricity is being generated through the solar energy panels. The energy needs of the island group is being met to a considerable level through the initiation of this idea and the lives of the inhabitants of this island group has undergone a sea change since the idea gained ground.

Infact, the Foreign Affairs Minister of New Zealand was so excited with this success that New Zealand is co hosting the Pacific energy summit in March next year. Carbon Footprints are set to be reduced drastically through this initiative taken by the New Zealand government and this will prompt other nations to follow suit.




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