29th May, 2020 Australia has contributed a further AUD 2.9m for new renewable energy infrastructure in Tonga.
This new funding through the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) will ensure that Vava’u will have 100% coverage from a safe, reliable, and climate resilient electricity network. It brings Australia’s total funding for OIREP to AUD 9.5million since 2013.
The Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Adrian Morrison, said: “It is important we support Tonga to be self-sufficient and resilient. OIREP means Tongans living on outer islands will have reliable access to affordable energy to enable work, education, and home life.”
The OIREP project, which is led by the Asian Development Bank, is bringing solar power infrastructure and energy storage to ‘Uiha, Nomuka, Ha’ano, Lifuka, Ha’afeva, ‘Eua, Vava’u, Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou. It is also rehabilitating the electricity networks on ‘Eua and Vava’u.
The benefits of the completed network upgrades on ‘Eua were proven after Tropical Cyclone Gita (2018) and the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold in April. The upgraded networks suffered minimal damage, and electricity was quickly restored to affected communities.
OIREP is also supporting Tonga to reduce dependence on costly imported fossil fuels and achieve its target of generating 70% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The new works will also bring economic activity to Vava’u through local workforce and goods and services opportunities, helping reduce the economic impacts of the global COVID-19 crisis.
The agreement for additional financing was executed on 22 May 2020. The project is due to be completed by July 2022.