By September, Tokelau, a non self-governing territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific Ocean, will become the world’s first 100-percent solar powered nation.
This is not only amazing from an environmental standpoint, but from an economic one as well.
The three atolls that comprise Tokelau are phasing out diesel fuel to generate electricity and replacing it with over 4,000 solar panels which will utilize the ever-present, scorching island sun. The first phase of solar panels has already been installed on one atoll, Fakaofo; the two remaining atolls, Atafu and Nukunon, are expected to have their panels installed by September.
The majority of Tokelau’s budget is paid for in aid from New Zealand and its 1400 residents are technically New Zealand citizens. Tokelau’s annual revenue is under $500,000, but the national budget is under $3 million. The diesel-fuelled electricity costs the nation over $1 million annually (approximately $715 per person).
At over $7 million, the cost is hefty to the New Zealand government, but experts expect the panels to be paid off in 5 years, at which time they will provide electricity for almost two decades before needing serious maintenance.