ADB brings green power to Tonga

26 Jul 19

Efforts to help Tonga’s most remote islands become self-sufficient in energy have been given a major boost by the Asian Development Bank.


A landmark first step has been taken to create the country’s first off-grid solar-power plant and distribution network on its most remote island, Niuatoputapu.

The King of Tonga Tupou VI led a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the ADB-backed project, which aims to provide the 210 homes on Niuatoputapu with access to affordable, clean energy.

“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 Poasi Mataele Tei, Tonga’s minister for meteorology, energy, information, disaster management, climate change, and communications.

The off-grid solar-power plant is the latest milestone of the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project supported by the ADB.

It is important because the South Pacific nation comprises more than 170 islands and localised off-grid renewable energy is seen as the key to providing them with sustainable access to electricity.

The project is cofinanced by the governments of Australia and Tonga, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, and the Second Danish Cooperation Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Rural Areas.

The new solar mini-grid on Niuatoputapu – where the population is less than 1,000 – follows the completion of on-grid solar plants and network upgrades on the islands of Ha’apai and ‘Eua.

It is hoped the project will result in a much more reliable and efficient power supply on all of Tonga’s outer islands. 

The initiative will also provide training and knowledge transfer by Tonga Power Limited to the beneficiary communities for five years after the commissioning of the mini-grids so that they can take local control.

The ADB’s senior country coordination officer in Tonga, Tatafu Moeaki, said: “ADB remains committed to working with its partners to help support the government of Tonga achieve its renewable energy generation targets.”

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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