Tonga’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels makes the Kingdom particularly vulnerable to the fluctuations of international petroleum price volatility and have reversed social and economic development making the task Government development goals more challenging. Recognizing this, the Prime Minister of Tonga Lord Tu’ivakano highlighted to the first ever UN-ESCAP Energy Ministers Forum in Vladivostok today, Thursday 30 may 2013 that Tonga’s Energy Road Map (TERM) provides the platform for Government to mobilize actions to secure an energy future that is practical for the Kingdom.
2. Lord Tu’ivakano outlined the tangible progress of TERM to date including the New Zealand funded 1 Megawatt Maama Mai Solar grid already connected in Tongatapu, the 500 Kilowatt solar grid funded by the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) under construction in Vavau to be connected before October 2013, the 1 Megawatt solar grid already committed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build in Vaini from February 2014, and the 1.3 Megawatt to be designed and funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the outer islands of the Kingdom. These firmed projects under TERM will practically secure Tonga an energy future of almost 50 percent renewable energy capacity wise well before its revised timeline by 2020.
3. The UN-ESCAP Energy Ministers Forum welcomed the good progress of TERM and noted the potential of Tonga’s leadership in the Pacific to secure renewable energy for the region including its hosting of the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit (PLES) in March 2013 at Nuku’alofa. The Forum also agreed to develop a Regional Data Repository for the Pacific to link to the UN Secretary General decision to mark the next ten years ‘the International Decade for Sustainable Energy for All’, the decisions of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and the UN Secretary General’s Initiative for Sustainable Energy for All.’
4. The Asia-Pacific Energy Ministers Forum also accepted Lord Prime Minister’s offer to host the next Ministerial Forum in Nuku’alofa. Lord Tu’ivakano will return from Vladivostok on Friday 1st June 2013 and is accompanied by officials from the Tonga Energy Road Map Committee.