World’s First Solar-Powered Country
A project to convert the tiny island nation of Tokelau to all solar power is nearing fruition, as workers finish the first of three major panel arrays. Once activated, the installations should provide more than 90 percent of the power used by the islands’ 1,711 residents.
Tokelau is a remote nation northeast of New Zealand comprising three atolls, to which goods and passengers can only travel by boat. Their electricity needs, though modest, are met by burning diesel fuel in generators. The transportation of the nearly 2,000 barrels of fuel consumed each year costs the population around a million dollars — a heavy toll.
The three solar arrays will generate about a megawatt in total, and batteries will keep the lights on at times when Tokelau’s citizens previously could not afford to run generators. They are designed to withstand the humid and windy tropical environment, and actually produce a surplus of power, meaning the population can expand without taxing the system.