Right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of tiny islands are preparing to do something quite extraordinary, something innovative that has never been done before. Tokelau, territory of New Zealand is a group of three coral islands that aim to become the first location worldwide to run exclusively on solar energy.
With 4,000 solar panels on these three islands, the project, funded by the Ministries Trade of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, will enable the residents of Tokelau to turn off once and for all the diseal generators they used to depend on.
In the past, it took at least 2,000 barrels of diesel fuel per year to meet the energy needs of Tokelau; a territory that occupies less than 15 km2.
Of course the finance Ministers will be delighted with these savings, but the real winner is the environment of this island as it will no longer be subject to the risk of toxic leakage of fossil fuels.
Composed of 4,032 modules with the equivalent power of a Mw of 392 inverters and of 1344 batteries each weighting 250kg, the solar power plant was designed to withstand cyclones and to provide 150% of the electricity demands of Tokelau. Everything has been carefully studied, even the use of reserves in case of prolonged cloudy days: the energy required will be provided by generators operating on a base of coconut oil, which can recharge the batteries very efficiently.
The other islands in the South Pacific are watching this pioneering project with interest. They could be the next in line to start using solar power, after all it is a well known fact that the use of diesel is expensive, dangerous and damaging in the long term.