4 Mar 2020

New solar system for Tokelau

2:11 pm on 4 March 2020

Tokelau's solar energy system is set to be upgraded on each of its three atolls.

Jointly funded by the governments of Tokelau and New Zealand, the $NZ9 million ($USD5.7m) system will be installed by New Zealand company Vector PowerSmart.

The existing solar array on Atafu

The existing solar array on Atafu Photo: Vector Power Smart

Tokelau's existing solar system was eight years old and in need of upgrading because of increasing demand for electricity and wear and tear from the harsh marine environment, it said.

Vector PowerSmart chief operating officer Colin Daly said the project would mean the people of Tokelau would enjoy "clean, reliable and renewable energy" for years to come.

Additional 210 kilowatt solar arrays would be installed on Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu, along with two megawatt hour lithium ion battery storage systems.

The new batteries will take up less space and provide twice the output, making the existing lead acid batteries redundant which will eventually be recycled off island.

Robin Pene, general manager of Tokelau's Department of Energy, which is contributing $NZ3m, said the new system would help to "decrease emissions from the transporting and burning of diesel for electricity generation", in line with its national strategy for responding to climate change.

Upgrading the three power stations is touted as bringing almost 100 percent renewable energy to Tokelau's 1400 inhabitants.