More solar systems for Tonga

30 March 2012 | News story

43 new solar home systems have been installed and are now in full operation on the island of Lofanga in the Kingdom of Tonga. This is the third solar project completed by IUCN Oceania and the Government of Tonga, with support from the Governments of Italy and Austria, in the remote islands of Ha'apai.

With only 1.45 square kilometres, Lofanga is home to about 180 men, women and children . The partners installed 43 solar home systems: 38 installed in homes, three in the village church, one in the village hall and one for the island’s only primary school .

These new solar systems provide basic lighting and enough power for radios and mobile phone charging. The system in the village hall also caters for a television that can be used for up to three hours per day.

IUCN's Energy Programme Coordinator, Anare Matakitivi visited Lofanga and attended the commissioning of the new systems.

"We are glad to see that this project has been completed and the households are already making use of the new system," said Matakiviti. "Solar power is a successful example of how we can make good use of nature's services sustainably to improve peoples’ livelihoods".

By providing electricity and a cleaner alternative for lighting, the solar systems minimize the use of kerosene, usually used for lighting purposes in most remote islands. By the end of the first year it is estimated that the households will save over TP12,000 worth of kerosene, equal to 8,000 litres of kerosene per year. This means a savings of over 20 tonnes a year of carbon emissions.

Similar to the other two solar projects in Tonga, each household is required to pay a small monthly fee for maintenance purposes. Maintenance of all systems is overlooked by the Ha'apai Solar Electricity Incorporated Society, a regulated entity established to manage all solar electrification projects in the Ha’apai group of islands.

For more information contact anare.matakiviti@iucn.org