NIUATOPUTAPU, TONGA: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) joined the Government of Tonga and other development partners in a groundbreaking ceremony today to officially mark the first step toward the construction of the country’s first off-grid solar-power plant and distribution network for Tonga’s most remote island of Niuatoputapu.
The King of Tonga, Tupou VI, led the groundbreaking ceremony and Senior Country Coordination Officer in Tonga, Mr. Tatafu Moeaki, represented ADB at the event.
“The Government of Tonga is pleased to help deliver the country’s first off-grid solar plant to 740 people in Niuatoputapu and soon they will enjoy the benefits of reliable, efficient solar-generated electricity,” said Tonga’s Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Climate Change, and Communications Mr. Poasi Mataele Tei in his keynote speech.
The off-grid solar-power plant is the latest milestone of the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project, supported by ADB and cofinanced by the Government of Australia, the Government of Tonga, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, and the Second Danish Cooperation Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Rural Areas.
“ADB remains committed to working with its partners to help support the Government of Tonga achieve its renewable energy generation targets,” said Mr. Moeaki.
The new solar mini-grid will provide the 210 homes on the island with prepaid metering to improve access to affordable, clean energy. This first off-grid solar plant follows the completion of on-grid solar plants and network upgrades on the islands of Ha’apai and ‘Eua.
Other benefits of the project include increased consumer access to electricity generated by solar power due to a reduction in cost and increasing reliability and efficiency of power on the supply side in the outer islands. The project is assisting the operations of both on-grid and off-grid systems through the provision of training and knowledge transfer by Tonga Power Limited to the beneficiary communities for 5 years after the commissioning of the mini-grid systems.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.