Work by Mount Maunganui renewable energy specialist to create the world’s first solar-powered nation took a step forward this week.
Powersmart Solar switched on the first of three Tokelau atolls over to solar power on Wednesday following the installation of a solar grid system.
Powersmart Solar’s team by the solar array on Fakaofo Atoll that was switched on on Wednesday. Photo supplied
The company began installation work on Fakaofo Atoll six weeks ago on the project to replace diesel electricity systems that operate on each of the atolls with solar power systems and battery storage under a $7.5million programme being funded by New Zealand Government aid.
Work will now start on the second atoll, with each of Tokelau’s three atolls on target to have their own solar electricity system operating by October – enabling the island nation to become 100 per cent solar powered.
Powersmart director Mike Bassett-Smith says it is among the largest off-grid solar power systems in the world and the largest solar system being installed the South Pacific.
The change is being welcomed by the Tokelauan community, with with Faipule (MP) of Fakaofo atoll Energy Minister Foua Toloa saying it will be an “amazing change from using fossil fuel”.
“It avoids expenses, but also bringing them there, it’s dangerous and any spill will affect the environment."
Tokelau has a population of 1500 people and uses about 200 litres of diesel for generators on each atoll daily - meaning more than 2000 barrels of diesel costing more than $1million are used to generate electricity each year.
Powersmart is the lead contractor for the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project and is working with IT Power Australia.