Tongareva to be carbon neutral


Tongareva atoll, photo: Evan Smith

Aerial photograph of the Island of Penrhyn, by EwanSmith, CC BY-SA 3.0

The BA is going to launch fund rising to make Tongareva carbon neutral. We aim to collect a found currently estimated below 20,000 US$ to replace all the currently used conventional bulbs with energy saving, long lasting LED bulbs. This way significant amount of energy can be saved and the two solar-power station could cover the energy need of the communities at this remote atoll.

On 20th of February 2015 with the delivery of two complete solar-power station component set for the villages of Tongareva atoll (110 people at Omoka and 40 at Te Tautua) the NZAID financed project entered into its on-site build phase, to be completed in two months.

“All water is stored rainfall. Tongareva turns the power off overnight to save fuel, and we are very careful at conserving our precious resources. No matter which way we look at the problem, diesel fuel has to come from New Zealand (over 6000 km), and another voyage from Rarotonga (1400 km); then the ships have to return again. By changing to solar power we cut out that huge carbon footprint.” (Dr. Michael White, Tongareva Atoll)

Power at Tongareva is used for:
– lighting;
– refrigerators and freezers;
– electric jugs (kettles);
– water pumps;
– televisions, video players and computers;
– recharging phones and small electronic devices;
– sewing machines and other power tools;

Efforts are already started to make a good estimation of monthly power consumption per household. Permission has been sought from the Head of Tongareva Atoll to conduct a survey of all households to determine patterns of domestic energy usage, and requirements to replace existing lighting with LED products. This survey will take about few weeks to complete.

Other figures to see the whole picture are:

– average energy usage per day
– nominal output of the current generator
– quantity of diesel usage per day
– nominal output of the two solar station
– bulb types required
– number of required bulbs per type
– available sources to purchase from

As soon as figures will be available, the required budget for replacing the bulbs can be determined, and fund rising can be started on this website.

Meanwhile there is an open call for Grant Funding Application to prepare further projects.

Tongareva belongs to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The people of Tongareva, just like the people of many similarly remote islands, had learned that they rely on their natural environment almost exclusively. So they must preserve its pristine state as much as they can to live a balanced life and not to destroy their children’s heritage.

8 thoughts on “Tongareva to be carbon neutral

    1. Janos Post author

      It’s indeed very good guide. I like the prices shown as well. If you make your choice of bulbs, we will have a draft figure for the budget. Janos

  1. Michael White

    This is even better. Ignore the small coloured lights, but if you click on any light or the text it gives you the details for each lamp. 3W would be the little nightlight type thing; then 7, 8.5, 9, 12, 13 are the medium & brighter ones. In particular note the number of LEDS & Lumens. The cheapest 9W may not necessarily be the best. The Samsung ones look good. So there are at least 3 technologies at play in the bulbs ~ reflected in the price, efficency, life and operating temperatures. So the cool spectra are the best workspace lights, where you need to see details; the warm are the more ambient (dining rooms, chilling out spaces etc.). There are other devices, such as panel lights and strips of flexible lights that I saw on a Canadian yacht a couple of years ago … amazing stuff. One of the lights in the list below is 12/24V, so that solves another concern.

    Last point is that they did a nice trial pack (click on the bayonet one), and also discounts for buying in volume. They may be amenable to negotiate once we know what we need. Mike 🙂

  2. Michael White

    Quick update on this as we’re all very busy right now with the Solar Power project. We’ve been investigating such things as battery-powered tools (drills, grinders, circular & jig saws, grass-cutters; even chain-saws). Most of the well-known power tool companies have products available. The guys installing our solar array have a whole range of these things. The batteries are interchangeable between devices; rapid charge (about 20 minutes), that’s it. So our next step after the LED bulbs is to change to battery tools, which we’ll also charge from solar.

    Investigated battery powered outboard motors & motorbikes. This technology has changed dramatically this year ~ amazing actually.

    I’m now clear on the best LED lights for our needs and have started a spreadsheet.

    To answer some of the original questions posted above. Our diesel generator is 65 KVA (TeTautua’s 35 KVA) and uses about 8 litres of fuel an hour. Omoka’s solar array will deliver 122 kw (about 150 KVA). The solar panels deliver 800 volts DC, this is inverted directly to 230 volts AC. Then if the batteries need a top-up, say after an extended cloudy period, 230 v AC can be inverted again to give 48 v DC to trickle-charge the batteries.

    Finally, to reduce our carbon footprint we’ve just started replanting areas on the uninhabited motu (cays) that had been damaged by lightning strikes and many trees had died. Today 8 of us went to a motu for a few hours, cleared a large section of fallen debris, chopped some dead trees, then planted 10 new coconut trees … so we’ve begun our new approach 🙂 Well done to us 🙂

    1. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

      Thanks for the info about LED Mike. Quite interesting, and very helpful too.
      Good to see that you have now reached the final stages of the conversion, which I suppose will be initially costly, but the long term saving will palliate that.
      Tongareva has certainly set up an example, and probably sound the clarion, for all other small islands in the region, and elsewhere too.

      Do keep us informed, and the original suggestion of a project, or even projects from your end still await materialization.

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