Tokelau islands become the first to completely rely on solar power

By on November 7, 2012, 3:30 PM

Alternative energy solutions are a topic of intense interest worldwide. Research and development into new methods to generate and harness power continues although some tend to forget that there are already some pretty viable solutions readily available. Just look at the New Zealand territory of Tokelau if you need an example.

This group of three small islands in the South Pacific now have enough solar panel installations to completely meet their electrical energy needs. Up to this point, the islands had to rely on imported diesel fuel to power electrical generators. As New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murry McCully points out, this had heavy economic and environmental costs.

The $7 million project was funded by the New Zealand government. A collection of solar panels were installed on each of the three islands. The last of the panels were put into place earlier this week, according to the BBC.

Keep in mind of course that these are three very small islands. Collectively, the islands consist of just 12 square kilometers of land mass and have a population of only 1,500. That said, it’s a pretty big deal for the territory as project co-planner Mike Basset-Smith said the government would now be able to invest more money into social welfare projects – money that used to be spent on diesel fuel.

The territory lies in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Hawaii. Some of its nearby neighbors include the islands of Samoa and Fiji.




User Comments: 11

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Alexmx said:

Nice!

I always have wondered how wide should a "photocell belt" around the world be in order to provide energy for the population.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Should have a farm of 100km's square in orbit... never any down time. pure unfiltered power.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Not going to fly In Canada, that's for sure..

Pan Wah said:

Surely everywhere was solar powered a few hundred years ago?

wiyosaya said:

Should have a farm of 100km's square in orbit... never any down time. pure unfiltered power.

It has been considered. The biggest problem with this is how to transmit the power to the ground in a safe manner. It is not an easy task; if the power were constrained to a beam, it would fry virtually anything that strayed into the beam.

Guest said:

"Should have a farm of 100km's square in orbit... never any down time. pure unfiltered power."

first, how to transmit power to earth? Second, how much it will cost to make 100km square? making even less 10km square farm on orbit would cost as much as the cost when you making bunch of nuclear powerplant (include several years of maintenance cost) on the ground, and that's more cheaper and even a single nuclear powerplant can generate electricity several folds than your 100km square orbit farm even unfiltered!

Pan Wah said:

It has been considered. The biggest problem with this is how to transmit the power to the ground in a safe manner. It is not an easy task; if the power were constrained to a beam, it would fry virtually anything that strayed into the beam.

Several mains distribution boards, all plugged together end-to-end.

TJGeezer said:

"Should have a farm of 100km's square in orbit... never any down time. pure unfiltered power."

...making even less 10km square farm on orbit would cost as much as the cost when you making bunch of nuclear powerplant (include several years of maintenance cost) on the ground, and that's more cheaper and even a single nuclear powerplant can generate electricity several folds than your 100km square orbit farm even unfiltered!

Hmm - but nukes are ultimately impractical, not just dangerous. Qv Germany, where the nuke shutdown hasn't been an economic disaster at all. An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled "The German Nuclear Exit," shows that "the nuclear shutdown and an accompanying move toward renewable energy are already yielding measurable economic and environmental benefits, with one top expert calling the German phase-out a probable game-changer for the nuclear industry worldwide." Source: [link]

Guest said:

To TJGeezer

Yes, you're right. I'm just pointing out that how expensive making orbital solar panel.

Guest said:

Most people are confused of the physics of earth. The most light is not at the equator but past the latitudanal level closer to north and south poles where in some cases you have daylight 24 hours. That is where the solar panels should be considered. Also wireless energy transfer. Teslas invention that got lost or suppressed by oil companies. So they can play with energy supply to create artificial demand and enery crisis.

Guest said:

While the guest above remind that people got confused about physic of earth that most light is not at equator but past latitudinal closer to north or south poles, this person forgot that solar power not just need most light/sun rays, but also the intensity of the light, the ambient temperature on north/south poles should be considered too before you make some big solar powerplant there. I know this, based from my friend experience when building remote research compound there supplied with solar power

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