Solar lights for homes in three remote Tongan islands

22 January 2013 | Article

In Tonga IUCN worked with the government and provided essential lighting to more than 100 homes in three remote islands in the Ha’apai group.

BACKGROUND
The Kingdom of Tonga comprises three groups of islands, Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vavau.  The population is just over 105,000 with over 70% residing in rural areas. Tonga is highly dependent on imported petroleum fuels with fuel imports accounting for about 25% of total imports and about 10% of GDP . From 2007 to 2008 the Tongan economy struggled and had difficulty absorbing the escalating fuel prices with many businesses closing due to high electricity tariffs.  

SITUATION
In 2009 the government started developing a strategic approach to minimize its vulnerability to the above predicament. This process led to the development of the “Tonga Energy Road Map 2010-2020: Ten Year Road Map to Reduce Tonga’s Vulnerability to Oil Price shocks and Achieve an Increase in Quality Access to Modern Energy Services in an Environmentally Sustainable Manner” or simply the Tonga Energy Road Map 2010 – 2020 (TERM). Amongst other approaches, TERM promotes the use of renewable energy sources to diversify Tonga’s energy mix.

THE PROJECT
Tonga’s project involved rehabilitating solar home systems in the islands of Mo’unga’one and Mango and installing new solar home systems in Lofanga; all islands are in the Ha’apai group. The rehabilitation work in Mango and Mo’unga’one were completed in 2009 with 64 solar home systems installed. The Lofanga solar home systems were commissioned in 2012, with 52 systems installed.

OBJECTIVE
To electrify three outer islands in the Ha’apai group using solar home systems.

IMPACTS

  • Communities were provided access to modern energy services (electricity).
  • Communities are now using better quality lights (prior to this they were using kerosene lamps).
  • Use of renewable energy (solar) reduces dependence on imported petroleum fuels and therefore reduces sale and use of kerosene.
  • Increase in income in the communities through savings from the use of cheaper source of energy (solar).
  • Opportunity for individuals to carry out income generating activities during non-daylight hours e.g. weaving and sewing.
  • Improves energy security in communities as solar is always available

DURATION
2008 – 2012

DONORS

  • Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Austrian Development Cooperation