The island of Tokelau, technically a territory of New Zealand, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is on track to run on 100% solar power by September of this year. Quite an environmental feat for the 1400 inhabitants of Tokelau!
Per New Zealand’s 3 News, the three atolls (coral islands that encircle a lagoon) that make up Tokelau are in the process of phasing out using diesel fuel to generate electricity, and replacing with over 4000 solar panels. The first of the atolls to get solar panels is about halfway installed, with the remaining panels expected to be installed by September.
“It’s been quite a milestone week for us, we now have all the solar panels erected, 1584 solar modules, all the batteries are in place,” said mechanical engineer Dean Parchomchuk from Powersmart Solar, which is responsible for the panel installations.
Tokelau is bathed in sunlight year round, making it an ideal candidate for going solar. According to Revmodo.com, switching to solar is vital because ,”The tiny nation has been 95 percent dependent on imported petroleum for its energy needs, needing more than 2,000 barrels of diesel fuel annually. This costs residents nearly 1 million New Zealand dollars (US $800,000) each year in addition to the expense of shipping the fuel and maintaining power generators. Turning to solar energy will not only save them these costs, but will also reduce carbon emissions by some 12,000 tons over the next 20 years.““It’s going to be an amazing change from using fossil fuel,” said Tokelau energy minister Foua Toloa. “It avoids expenses, but also bringing them there, it’s dangerous and any spill will affect the environment.”
Tokelau has been in the news the last several years, dealing first-hand with rising seas as a result of climate change. Faced with such a situation, the nation and its peoples should serve as an inspiration to the rest of the world to push for the rapid development and deployment of renewable energy sources.
Image Credit: Sam Howzit/Flickr