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These islands are first to be powered by solar energy alone

Tokelau islands in the Pacific have population of 1,500 and were using 2,000 barrels of diesel a year to power generators.

Image: TeVakai via Facebook

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 their 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.

- Randy Astaiza

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