Tonga has achieved a milestone in reducing its dependence on diesel with the opening of a solar farm on the main island of Tongatapu.
The plant will provide about four percent of the island's electricity demand.
Sally Round has been at the opening:
"The skies were unsuitably overcast for the grand opening of the Ma'ama Mai plant but it hasn't detracted from the impressive rows of nearly 7,000 leaning solar panels in a field southeast of Nuku'alofa. The 1.3 megawatt farm has been developed by New Zealand's Meridian Energy, fully funded to the tune of eight million New Zealand dollars by the New Zealand Government. The plant is a showcase for New Zealand's more commercially focussed aid policy and described by Meridian as a no brainer for the Pacific. Power starts reaching four percent of Tongatapu's businesses and homes by next month and will reduce diesel consumption by nearly a half a million litres a year. Tonga aims to have half of its energy needs met by renewable energy by the end of the decade, as its power bills are some of the most expensive in the Pacific."