Solar Panel

New Zealand’s solar energy firm Powersmart has switched on the first of three solar power systems being installed on the South Pacific islands of Tokelau.

Powersmart is the lead contractor of the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project which will replace existing diesel electricity systems with solar power systems and battery storage.

Tokelau is made up of three atolls: Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu; and Fakaofo is the first among the three to become fully solar powered this week.

Work on the second atoll starts immediately, and each of Tokelau’s three atolls are expected have their own solar electricity system before 2013.

Mike Bassett-Smith, Powersmart director, said: "This system is among the largest off-grid solar power systems in the world and the largest solar system being installed the South Pacific."

The Mount Maunganui-based firm plans to install solar systems capable of providing 150% of current electricity demand allowing the Tokelauans to expand their electricity use without increasing diesel use.

With installation of 4,032 solar panels and batteries across the three atolls, Tokelau will cut electricity costs and reduce annual use of 2,000 barrels of diesel, said Powersmart.

Image: Tokelau will replace diesel electricity systems with solar power systems. Photo: courtesy of David Monniaux.