NZ to help Tonga build solar power plant


<p style="text-align: justify;">Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano has welcomed New Zealand’s commitment to invest $7.9 million to fund the construction of a 1 Mega Watt photovoltaic solar plant in Tonga.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The project will be delivered through a three-way public-private partnership (PPP) with Meridian Energy, Tonga Power Limited, and the Tongan Government.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The construction of the new solar plant in Tonga is expected to begin before the end of this year. When fully operational, it is expected to produce about 4% of Tongatapu’s annual generation and will save some 470,000 litres of diesel every year.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The construction of a solar plant is another major step in the Tongan government’s Energy Road Map, which is a 10-year plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel for generating its power.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Tonga hopes to halve its reliance on fossil fuel by the end of 2012. Its road map has come in for praise from several energy monitoring organizations around the world and is being emulated by other Pacific Island countries, notably the Cook Islands.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Prime Minister Henry Puna, who was a panelist in the Oceans of Opportunity investment summit said the Cook Islands was aiming to generate half of its energy requirement with renewables by 2015 and would reduce reliance on fossil fuels completely by the year 2020.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Next year’s Forum summit will be held in the Cook Islands.</p>