By Mariella Moon, Tecca
The island territory Tokelau of New Zealand might not have its own Star Wars coins like fellow island Niue, but it’s also getting a dose of global attention, although for an entirely different reason. The island’s leader, Foua Toloa, just announced a new energy policy that will power the island completely with sunlight and coconuts. And like many island nations, Tokelau has an abundance of both.
Right now, solar energy already powers a few houses and buildings on the three atolls of Tokelau. But most of the island nation still relies on fossil fuel, with each atoll needing up to 200 liters a day. Tokelau plans to transition to pure renewable energy by mid-2012. That entails installing approximately 200 square meters of solar cells on each atoll in order to meet its goal of relying on sunlight for 93% of its energy needs.
Tokelau plans to get the remaining 7% of its energy needs from coconut biofuel, which is reserved for use during overcast days. According to a feasibility study, 200 coconuts are needed to make the 20 to 30 liters of fuel each atoll requires — that number shouldn’t be a problem considering the island nation is rich on coconut trees. Gasoline and kerosene will still be allowed but only for minimal cooking and transportation needs.
Tokelau is a low-lying island under threat by increasing sea levels believed to be caused by climate change. The transition to renewable energy is brought about by the government’ desire to set an example when it comes to energy use.