Completion of the Maama Mai solar facility, the result of a unique partnership between the New Zealand and Tongan governments, and Tonga Power Limited and Meridian Energy, was celebrated in Tongatapu on 24 July.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Tonga’s Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, along with about 250 guests, attended the ceremony at the solar farm, officially opened and named by His Majesty King Tupou VI.
Maama Mai (which translates as “let there be light”) brings Tonga a step closer to reducing its reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels and reducing the cost of power for its consumers across the board.
“New Zealand’s investment in the Maama Mai facility recognises the enormous potential of solar power in the Pacific to deliver cheaper, renewable energy and support sustainable economic development in the region.” Mr McCully said.
“Pacific countries are prioritising renewable sources of energy to achieve their development goals, and New Zealand is also supporting the development of renewable generation in Tokelau and the Cook Islands. The New Zealand government is very pleased to have entered into this partnership, we now look forward to it delivering real benefits for the people of Tonga,” he said.
From early August 2012 the solar farm will provide approximately one megawatt of electricity per year, meet approximately 4% of Tongatapu’s total electricity demand, reduce annual diesel consumption by approximately 470,000 litres, and decrease annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 2000 tonnes.
Tonga Power Limited also announced a general reduction in power prices at the ceremony. The New Zealand government contributed $7.9 million to the project.
Find out more about Maama Mai here.