Tokelau becomes the world’s first solar state

Could almost be the uk !

Brilliant piece of inspiration after the doom of the coal scenario.

Tokelau, an island nation in the Pacific, is the world’s first territory to become wholly solar powered, thus future-proofing its energy needs. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Convention on Climate Change, has praised the “climate leadership” of Tokelau – a Pacific microstate of just 1,500 inhabitants, and only three cars.

Former ulu (leader) Foua Toloa pledged to make the shift from fossil fuel dependency at the last UN climate conference, announcing that Tokelau would send “a message to the world”.

Rising just two metres above sea level, Tokelau is extremely vulnerable to rising oceans and other effects of global warming. As Toloa says: “We will be among the first to go under water. Already, we are suffering extreme weather, storm surges, droughts, coral-bleaching, inundation of land, and groundwater salinisation.”

Sound economics, as well as environmental concerns, inspired the switch. Tokelau’s generators previously burned 200 litres of diesel a day, at an annual cost of more than £500,000. With no airport, barrels were transported thousands of kilometres by boat in relatively small amounts, and steep, ongoing price rises were anticipated.

“Photovoltaics are a mature, reliable off-the-shelf technology that has been proven for years”, asserts Joseph Mayhew, Development Manager for energy at the New Zealand Aid Programme. “Renewable energy should not be seen as an ‘alternative’ source of energy, but rather an essential key to unlocking the Pacific’s potential.” 

The region now seems ready for an energy revolution: a 1MW PV plant is under construction on Tonga, while Samoa, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands all plan to shift exclusively to solar power by 2020