First Solar Power Farm In Tonga To Open In Late July

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Island nation moves closer to renewable energy goals

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 29, 2012) – Tonga's first Solar Farm, built at a cost of TOP $12 million [US$6.7 million] at the Tonga Power Popua station in 'Anana is expected to be officially opened on July 24, and start generating electricity, a Tonga Power Ltd. spokesperson said.

The solar farm has capacity to be able to generate 1,880 megawatt hours of electricity a year, or about 4 percent of Tongatapu's total electricity demand. It is expected to reduce Tonga's use of diesel by approximately 470,000 liters and decrease carbon emissions by over 2,000 tons annually, she said.

Meridian Energy, a leading developer of renewable energy in New Zealand constructed the solar farm with funding from the New Zealand government. The spokesperson said the final partnership agreement between Meridian and Tonga Power required Tonga Power to operate and maintain the facility with asset management support from Meridian.

After five years, full legal ownership of the facility will be transferred to Tonga Power Ltd., a government owned entity, she said.

Project

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the solar farm was held at the Popua Power Station on November 10, 2011, when preliminary site works began.

From January to April this year concrete foundations and racking systems were installed, while the site works currently underway were expected to be completed in July.

She said that the solar farm was a significant move by the Tonga government towards achieving its target in the Tonga Energy Road Map 2010-20, to produce 50 percent of Tonga's electricity through renewable sources.

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