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Tonga and New Zealand to construct solar power plant

Tonga and New Zealand to construct solar power plant

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced today that New Zealand will invest $7.9 million to fund the construction of a 1 Mega Watt photovoltaic solar plant in Tonga.

The project will be delivered through an innovative public-private partnership with Meridian Energy, Tonga Power Limited, and the Tongan Government.

"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," Mr McCully said.

"We want to share our considerable knowledge of this sector with our Pacific neighbours, and Meridian Energy's experience in renewable energy makes them a logical partner for the Tongatapu solar project.

"This public-private partnership is an exciting approach to delivering aid that also represents a possible model for similar infrastructure projects in the Pacific.

Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano welcomed New Zealand's commitment to the project.

"The construction of a solar plant in Tongatapu will support the Tongan Government's Energy Road Map, a 10 year plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel for electricity generation."

"The Tonga Government is grateful for such an assistance, which will contribute to Tonga's target of reducing fossil fuel use by 50 percent by the end of 2012," Lord Tu'ivakano said.

The construction of the new solar plant in Tonga is expected to begin before the end of the current year.

When operational the solar plant is expect to produce about 4% of Tongatapu's annual generation (1880 MWh generation vs ~48GWh load), and will offset approximately 470,000 litres of diesel per annum.

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