Pacific Island Sets Renewable Energy Record

Pacific's Tokelau in world first solar switch

Tokelau, a small Polynesian territory in the central Pacific, has surpassed the rest of the world in replacing fossil fuels and raised the benchmark of achievement on sustainable development.

Located north of Samoa, the three atolls, home to 1,411 people, will claim a world record when they switch to 150 percent renewable energy - sourced primarily from solar power - next week.

"Our commitment as global citizens is to make a positive contribution towards the mitigation of the impacts of climate change,"Jovilisi Suveinakama, general manager of the National Public Service of the Government of Tokelau, in Apia, Samoa, told IPS.

"We are proud of this achievement. We congratulate and encourage other countries in the Pacific (to take) the same path."

Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo atolls, which are administered by New Zealand, are three to five metres above sea level and comprise a total land area of 12 square kilometres.

The territory's energy requirements for electricity, domestic use and transportation have hitherto been met by imported fossil fuels, costing the tiny country roughly 819,500 dollars per year.
In 2004 the Government of Tokelau developed a national policy and strategy to increase energy efficiency and independence with a focus on the renewable sector.

This year the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project, funded by New Zealand Aid and comprising one of the world's largest off-grid solar systems, came to fruition.

During the past three months 4,032 photovoltaic panels and 1,344 batteries have been installed on the three atolls. The electricity generators will be powered by coconut bio-fuel produced on the islands.
"The original tender specification called for the solar systems to supply 90 percent of Tokelau's electricity demand,"the New Zealand-based project contractor, PowerSmart, said in a public statement.
In fact, the systems installed will be"capable of providing 150 percent of current electricity demand, allowing the Tokelauns to expand their electricity use without increasing diesel use."

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