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This section outlines official Press and Media Statements issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications in addition to Press Releases from the Prime Minister's Office and other Government Ministries and Departments.

Groundbreaking ceremony for new photovoltaic Popua Solar Farm

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10 November 2011. The Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Samiu Vaipulu attended a ground-breaking ceremony today, symbolizing the initiation of the project to construct Tonga's first ever renewable energy power plant, the 1MW photovoltaic Popua Solar Farm.

"Due for commissioning by mid 2012, the 1MW AC Popua Solar Farm will be the first renewable power station supplying about 4% of the requirements of the main island of Tongatapu and reducing the country's diesel usage by approximately 470,000 litres per annum, " stated the Minister for Justice and Public Enterprises, Hon. Clive Edwards.

The project is a partnership between the Tonga Power Limited, the Government of Tonga through the Tonga Energy Road Map - Implementation Unit and the renewable energy developer Meridian Energy, with the support of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

According to the Acting New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr. Dominic Walton-France, "The project will receive $9 million from New Zealand Aid Programme allocation to Tonga."

Currently, Tonga relies almost wholly on costly imported diesel to power its electricity networks on four of its largest islands.

The solar plant will be located next to Tonga Power's Popua diesel power station at ‘Anana, on the main island of Tongatapu, will provide approximately 1880MWh of electricity per annum.

This project will support the Tongan Government's Energy Road Map, a 10 year plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel for electricity generation.

The Government of Tonga has set a target in its Energy Roadmap 2010-20 to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012.

Globally solar energy is soaring in popularity, and is a logical choice for sun-drenched communities in the Pacific. Local energy generation from renewable resources increases the Kingdom's self-sufficiency and makes use of a freely available resource.

This project will help the Tongan people create a better energy future and it's great to be able to share our knowledge and see a cheaper and cleaner fuel source in Tongatapu.

Meridian manages and develops some of New Zealand's most iconic wind and hydro assets and has a strong skill-set in solar energy since developing the 5MW solar farm CalRENEW-1 in Mendota, California. Meridian's US project was California's first grid-connected solar facility and has been operating for nearly eighteen months.

Construction at the Popua solar farm site is expected to begin in late November 2011, and the farm is expected to start generating electricity by July 2012.


Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2011.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:54 )
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