Tokelau: the first nation in the world to go (almost) 100% solar

The Tokelau islands will be the first nation in the world to switch over completely to solar power.

The little group of atolls in the South Pacific Ocean is momentarily depending on petrol that is being shipped in from New Zealand. Tokelau is burning about 2000 barrels a year of petrol at a cost of more than half a million euro. This petrol dependency also impacts Tokelau’s 1,400 residents, who can only count on 15 to 18 hours of electricity each day.

The solar power plant is spread across Tokelau’s three atolls – Fakaofo, Nukunonu, and Atafu. The custom-designed solar system will provide 150 per cent of the nation’s current electricity demand, allowing Tokelauans to expand electricity use without increasing petrol demand. In total 4032 solar panels and 1344 batteries, weighing 250 kg each, will provide electricity to the nation’s people. In overcast weather the generators will run on coconut oil and simultaneously recharge the battery bank.

The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project (TREP) is being headed by Powersmart Solar, a New Zealand company. If they succeed, Tokelau will be the first 100 percent solar electric nation in the world. The only fossil fuel that is still needed will be used for the three cars on the islands. Tokelau’s government estimates the country will save 12,000 tonnes of CO2 over the life of the solar power plant.



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