Tonga’s first Energy Bill which is anticipated to set up key governance structures in the energy sector and formalize the functions of MEIDECC’s Energy Department has been approved by Cabinet and it is now with Attorney General’s Office for processing to parliament.
Director of Energy Dr Tēvita Tūkunga said the bill will repeal three existing Acts including the Electricity Act, Petroleum Act and the Renewable Energy Act, when it becomes effective.
Once effective, the bill will authorize the establishment of an Energy Commission to regulate petroleum, electricity and renewable energy. An advisory committee consisted of CEOs will be set up as well as a technical committee.
Dr Tūkunga noted that the bill is “imperative to the development and future of the energy sector” in Tonga.
This initiative is made possible through funding from the European Union.
OIREP, a multi-donor project led by the Asian Development Bank and co-financed by the Australian Government, European Union and Green Climate Fund is helping Tonga reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation by constructing solar power plants on outer islands.
The project is bringing solar power infrastructure and energy storage to the islands of ‘Uiha, Nomuka, Ha’ano, Ha’afeva, ‘Eua, Vava’u, Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou and is also rehabilitating electricity networks on ‘Eua and Vava’u.
Last year, Australia contributed an additional AUD 2.9 million to the project, bringing its total funding to AUD 9.5 million since 2013.
Dr Tūkunga said, OIREP “improves the quality of life” of those who are still living on outer islands through access to 24 hours electricity supply.
“The project supports Tonga’s target of generating 70% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.”
According to Dr Tūkunga one of the projects that have been implemented is the Tonga Renewable Energy Project (TREP) which is expected to “enable four islands in Ha’apai, (‘O’ua, Tungua, Mo’unga’one & Kotu) three islands in Vava’u (Hunga, Ofu, Kapa) and Niuafo’ou to access 24-hours resilient and sustainable electricity”.
“Another programme that is the Tonga Wind Power Project funded by the Republic of China. Under this project, three sets of wind power generators and supporting facilities with the total capacity of 2.25MW will be constructed at Ha’amalo, eastern coast of Lapaha.”
He added that discussions are underway to implement new renewable project which will help Tonga to keep powering ahead to achieve 70% share of renewable energy target by 2030.