Tokelau throws switch to 100 percent solar in Australia’s backyard


Tokelau is 100% Solar Woo-Hoo!

Solar energy in the Pacific took a giant leap forward this week when New Zealand-controlled territory Tokelau completed the switch from diesel to solar as its main fuel source. Tokelau is now nearly 100 percent reliant on the sun for its power needs and its model is showing the way for the rest of the world.

We’ve written about Tokelau before in these pages, when the tiny territory first flicked the switch to solar on its main territory of Fakaofo. Now, the $NZ8.5 million solar power project is complete with the addition of solar-based mini grids on the remaining two atolls.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, speaking on behalf of the New Zealand Government welcomed the tiny territories’ achievement, calling it a “world first”.

“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau’s three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs,” he told reporters last week.

The minister went on to discuss the role New Zealand had played in providing financial backing and support to the territory and welcomed the way smaller Pacific nations have lead the world on renewable energy projects.

“New Zealand is very pleased to be able to support Tokelau in reaching its renewable energy goals through an advance of $7 million in New Zealand’s aid allocation to the territory,” he said.

“Completed on time and on budget, the project is an excellent example of how small Pacific nations can lead the way on renewable energy development.”

Delighted though this column is to hear of Pacific nations development of solar power, particularly in our own backyard, there is a worrying development. Have you spotted it? Yes the Kiwis have jumped the gun on us again. As well as flogging us in the Rugby World Cup, Bledisloe Cup etc (in fact everything except cricket and netball) our cousins from across the pond are now stealing a march on leadership in renewables such as solar energy in the Pacific.

Funding such initiatives as the Tokelau solar project through New Zealand Aid has proven to be a winner both for the island nation, as well as NZ deserved recognition as one of the leaders in supporting renewable energy in the Pacific. Hats off NZ.

What can be done Aussie solar fans?

Perhaps an answer can be found in a recent Radio Australia report which discusses how the Pacific island of Niue will fund its solar energy program with money from the Japanese government’s specially set up Pacific Environment Community Fund.

The fund is providing a $US4 million grant to help the island wean itself off oil and on to solar energy. Other Pacific nations to benefit from grants from the Japanese fund include Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati.

Perhaps its time we upgraded our solar energy support and financial assistance to our neighbours in our own backyard. Not only would this boost our fledgling solar industry by making Aussie exports available, but we’d also start to claw back the advantage those Kiwis have as being renewable energy leader in the Pacific.

Ultimately though, solar energy and the Pacific are the real winners.


  1. Big Polluters In Doha Refuse To Help Drowning Nations - Solar Power Blog says:

    […] have already lead the world by converting to 100 percent solar energy in place of fossil fuel (see article here) — perhaps it’s time the developed world caught […]

  2. Pacific Energy Summit hears calls for better funding for renewable projects - Solar Power Blog says:

    […] This of course included solar power, already making headway in nations such as Tokelau which in throwing the switch to solar in November 2012 has become the world’s first solar-powered country. For more on this achievement see our article Tokelau throws switch to 100 percent solar in Australia’s backyard. […]

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