IRENA Supports Tonga’s Transition to Renewable Energy

22 September 2009| Articles


Hélène Pelosse, Director-General of IRENA met with a delegation from the Kingdom of Tonga during Climate Week in New York. A few weeks after member states elected Ms. Pelosse as IRENAs Director-General and decided to establish the headquarters in Abu Dhabi, Tonga turned towards IRENA for assistance. The Kingdom seeks advice on tailor-made policies to power its remote islands in a sustainable way – without turning to expensive grid-extensions.

Ms. Pelosse explained: “By providing policy advice to Tonga, IRENA is starting one of its core activities. Carefully designed policy instruments are a precondition for increasing the production of renewable energy in a certain country. Many states around the world have introduced effective policies, support schemes and regulations. IRENA will use these examples as a model, adapting them to the specific framework conditions of those member states that it is advising.”  

A number of islands within the Kingdom of Tonga are lacking basic electricity supply. In view of the decreasing reliability of fossil fuel based generation, its increasing costs and negative environmental side-effects, renewable energy solutions have attracted the government’s attention. Together with Tonga, IRENA has charted out a renewable energy based strategy to power the main and outer islands alike. The strategy focuses on Solar Home Systems that turn individual households into small power plants. In addition, it calls for the involvement of local operators, finance institutions and technicians to provide sustainable business models as well as strategies to ensure the effective operation, management and maintenance once the systems are installed.

Ms. Pelosse underlines: “Renewables are the number one choice when it comes to powering isolated and remote regions and islands. Due to their decentralized nature, renewable energies can be accessed locally. They empower the inhabitants on each island to supply themselves autonomously with electricity.”