Climate change for our pacific neighbours is literally lapping at their door. At the recent Pacific Forum New Zealand announced that it will invest $7.9 million to fund the construction of a photovoltaic solar plant in Tonga.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the project will be delivered through a public-private partnership with Meridian Energy, Tonga Power and the Tongan government.Meridian Energy continues its push into renewables outside of New Zealand.
"Reducing the Pacific's reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy will be a major topic of discussion for leaders during the 42nd Pacific Island Forum," McCully said. He did not mention the fact that New Zealand's own energy strategy takes a huge step into oil and coal ( and probably lignite although they haven't told about that yet)and flies in the face of its important responsibilities to our neighbours.
Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano welcomed New Zealand's commitment to the project, saying the solar plant will support his government's 10 year plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel.
The construction of the plant, which is expected to produce about 4% of Tongatapu's annual generation, is due to begin before the end of the year.
It will offset about 470,000 litres of diesel per annum.and contribute to Tonga's target of reducing fossil fuel use by 50 percent by the end of 2012," he said.