The Pacific territory of Tokelau has been named the 2014 EECA Renewable Energy Award winner for its solar efforts.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) is a New Zealand government agency that supports energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of renewable energy in New Zealand and its Territories.
Like many island nations, Tokelau has in the past relied heavily on expensive and polluting diesel generators for electricity supply.
Thanks to the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project, three large solar panel arrays arrays are now operating on Tokelau’s three atolls, some powered by SMA inverters. The project was completed last year.
These solar farms are now providing 90% of Tokelau’s electricity needs and place it among the world’s top nations for renewably-sourced electricity. Harvesting the sun’s energy is with solar panels is expected to save Tokelau roughly NZD $900,000 (~ AUD $824,500) per year in diesel costs.
The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project (TREP) was a joint undertaking between the Government of Tokelau and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“Island communities such as Tokelau, with few energy alternatives, are ideal sites for solar-generated electricity,” EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill.
“This project showed immense vision and drive from the leaders and communities of Tokelau. They are showing other Pacific nations the way – as well as highlighting to the world the need for more renewable energy and less carbon-intensive fossil fuels.”
Solar power represents so much more to Tokelau than just a stable, clean electricity supply. It’s a flagship for the battle against climate change and a signal to the world.
At their highest point, the islands rise around 2 metres above sea level. Tokelau is a nation in the front-line of the effects of climate change – and it is already experiencing the effects of rising seas. It is believed Tokelau could be the first nation to disappear under the waves unless dramatic action is taken to rein in carbon emissions.