A One Hundred Percent Solar Country

The rather incredibly small country of Tokelau, which is somewhere beautiful between Hawaii and New Zealand recently announced it was going solar, they weren’t kidding. As reported by New Zealand 3 News they are flipping the switches on their inverters right about now and giving up on their $1,000,000/year diesel habit that had been keeping the lights on in the small territory. Score one for distributed generation. To be fair they are still keeping a small supply of locally produced coconut oil to run the old diesel generators a small percentage of the time, but otherwise it’s solar in the day and batteries charged by solar at night. As perhaps the smallest economy in the world, with around 1500 residents living on five square miles, this news apparently isn’t wowing everyone – but it should be. The country will start seeing financial benefits immediately: the full cost of the installation being paid off in only five years and the financed cost means the country is probably saving 25% or more of its annual energy costs. That ignores the cost of the diesel generators and the cost of maintaining them and dealing with their frequent breakdowns and servicing needs. So from a financial standpoint alone the question probably should have been “why not sooner?” Maybe we should be asking ourselves the same question.
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