One year after the official Signing Ceremony of the 2010-2020 Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) in Abu Dhabi

03 June 2011| Articles


One year after the official Signing Ceremony of the 2010-2020 Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and several development partners met in Vava’u, Tonga, to review the progress made and chart the way forward.

The TERM is a ten year Road Map. Its goal is to reduce Tonga’s vulnerability to high oil import costs and to enhance access to modern energy services in an environmentally sustainable manner. In 2009/2010 IRENA, together with the Government of Tonga, developed an off-grid component of the TERM with the objective to provide Tonga’s outer island communities with access to renewable electricity.

The first TERM annual review meeting took place on 23 and 24 May in Neiafu, Vava’u. Ministers of different government departments, delegates from Australia, China, the European Union, and New Zealand, as well as representatives from development partners and regional organisations (including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and the Pacific Power Association) participated in this event.

During the last twelve months a TERM Implementation Unit has been established attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Advisory Unit. Various feasibility studies for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are underway. However, as Tonga’s Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, stated in his opening address, implementation has been gradual and increased efforts are needed.

Participants agreed upon an action plan for the upcoming 12 months, including a legal, regulatory, and institutional review of Tonga’s energy sector, the restructuring of the national utility company, assessment of the potentials for a range of renewable energy resources, and development of a financing structure. IRENA and the TERM Implementation Unit will work together on an annual review of energy technologies and costs that will be a basis for power system planning and investments.

During the meeting, IRENA also presented its plans to conduct renewable energy readiness assessments for the Pacific Island States. The assessments will help build an effective and efficient policy framework to support renewable energy deployment. The Tonga experience can provide valuable insights how to structure such an assessment.