Solar Powered Tuk Tuks Being Assembled In Tonga

New company looks at making Tonga production center for Pacific

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 22, 2016) – The first solar powered Tuk Tuk assembled in Tonga was launched by HRH Crown Princess Sinaitakala Tuku’aho at Hala Vuna, Nuku’alofa on 19 November 2016.

The historical event was marked with a cruise through Nuku’alofa on Saturday afternoon by a fleet of the solar-powered three-wheeled vehicles.

The project is launched by the founder of the Solar Island Technology, Dr Luka Mueller and the owner of Kirchner Solar Group, Mr Lars Kirchner.

Dr Mueller said that the Kirchner Solar Group is the biggest solar installer in Germany, and they have been involved in big solar projects in Africa. This is their first solar Tuk Tuk and all the parts were imported from overseas, to be assembled here in Nuku’alofa.

Lars was in town to oversee the assembling of the Tuk Tuk. He has been to Tonga before but this time he is convinced that it could be the centre for the manufacturing of Tuk Tuk in the Pacific.

“We assembled the first Tuk Tuk in the Pacific last week, and we did it faster then expected. After two and a half days, we finished the first 10 Tuk Tuks.

“Now I am convinced that very soon, we will be able to establish the first Tuk Tuk manufacturer in the Pacific here in Tonga.”

The Phase One of the project was the assembling and the launching of the first Solar Powered Tuk Tuk. Phase Two is to find out what the Tongans really need. “We will then adjust the technology to meet your needs, and six months from now we should be able to manufacture and produce technical parts for the Tuk Tuk here.”

About two years ago, Dr Luka Mueller and Mr Lars Kirchner stayed at the Sea View Lodge, and they were talking about what they could do for Tonga after they heard of a concern by government over the huge demand for fossil fuels.

According to Andrew To’imoana, the Acting CEO, Ministry of MEIDECC, 75% of Tonga’s fossil fuel imports is for transport and 25% for electricity generation.

Tonga has an ambitious plan to cut down on its use of fossil fuels for electricity generation, so that by 2020 50% of its electricity supply will be from renewable energy sources; 70% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

A high percentage of imported fossil fuel is for transport. Fossil fuel  imports for transport are expected to continually increase because of an easing in the restrictions on the importation of very old used vehicles that are not energy efficient.

The solar powered Tuk Tuk is one positive move to reduce the importation of fossil fuel for transport.

Dr Mueller said Mr Kirchner had negotiated with the German Government who agreed to fund half of the project.

The three types of Tuk Tuk that were on display, was one with insulated box, appropriate for the transportation of frozen food, a passenger model and one for carrying goods. The maximum weight that a Tuk Tuk can carryin 400kg. A Tuk Tuk can travel as fast as 40km an hour. If the battery is fully charged it can travel for four hours. The price for a new Tuk Tuk is $15,000 pa’anga [US$6,575].

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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An achievement that the Kiribati Islands should support.

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