7 Jul 2010

New Zealand helps Tonga with solar energy production

12:32 pm on 7 July 2010

New Zealand is to help fund construction of a solar power plant in Tonga.

This was announced by the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, at a start of a visit to Nuku'alofa.

He says the plant will be built and operated by Meridian Energy, with the power sold to Tonga's state-owned power company, Tonga Power Limited, under a long-term purchase agreement.

Mr McCully says the construction of the 1 mega watt plant will meet up to five percent of the electricity needs of the main island of Tongatapu.

The parties are hoping that construction can start early in 2011, with completion later the same year.

Last month, Tonga's king said the government was following development work in the United States on 30 megawatt nuclear power plants which could help reduce the kingdom's reliance on diesel.