Tonga advances in renewable energy sector

21/07/2011

Two significant developments last week have advanced Tonga on its “Energy Roadmap” in which the country plans to rationalise its energy sector, bringing down its reliance on hydrocarbon fuels and replacing them with renewable energy over a set time frame.<!--more-->

The country is partnering with dozens of development and technology organisations from around the world to achieve its goals. The Tonga Energy Roadmap has been hailed as a landmark document and is being studied by a number of developing world governments within the Pacific Islands region and outside.

Last week, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) concluded its first governing council meeting. Tonga happens to be the only Pacific Island country on the council, appointed earlier this year at a meeting in the Middle East.

At the meeting held at IRENA’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, the 148-member country body last week endorsed Tonga’s Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, as Chairman of the Agency’s Governance and Legal Committee.

The Prime Minister is upbeat about achieving the stiff target of deriving 50% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources by the end of next year.

“Tonga’s membership in IRENA means that we can access resources to help us achieve our goal of having 50% of our energy consumption from renewable sources in 2012. This is an important part of the Tonga Energy Road Map, which is a priority for Government,” he said after last week’s meeting at which the Council approved selection procedures for a US$350 million partnership between IRENA and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The fund is targeted at concessional loans for energy projects in developing countries like Tonga.

The second important development in the sector is New Zealand’s affirmation of the assistance worth more than NZ$8million for Tonga. Visiting New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully last week signed a development agreement with Acting Prime Minister Hon. Samiu Vaipulu in Nuku’alofa.

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