The Tokelau islands are the first nation to be run completely on solar power, they announced on November 5. Tokelau is a New Zealand territory made up of three coral atolls — coral reef based islands — in the Pacific.
“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau’s three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs,” Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said in a release on the official website of the New Zealand Government.
The population of 1,500 people were using 2,000 barrels of diesel a year to power generators for heir electricity — costing the islands $825,000 a year.
“Electricity expenses make up a huge portion of their budget in Tokelau, which makes it hard for them to invest and look toward the future, so there’s a very clear financial argument for this system,” said Michael Bassett-Smith, managing director of PowerSmart Solar, New Zealand’s largest solar power company, which directed the project.
Rising waters from climate change are causing significant coastal erosion on the islands, so they set up the arrays not just to save money, but to battle climate change and help ensure their survival.
Tokelau is made up of three atolls: Fakaofo, Nukunonu, and Atafu. Each island got their own mini solar grid.
The total cost of the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project was $8.5 million. Here residents are celebrating the opening of the solar power grid in Nukunonu.
The project originally hoped to provide 90 per cent of the small nation's electricity demands, but the solar panels are actually producing 150 per cent of the islands' current energy needs. Here the people of Tokelau are turning on the solar grid on Nukunonu.
The solar arrays hold 4,032 photovoltaic panels, 392 inverters, and 1,344 batteries across the three atolls. It pumps out a total 1 Megawatt of electricity.
The solar plants will decrease the nation's carbon footprint drastically, paving the way for other nations to follow in their eco-friendly footsteps.
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