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Pacific islands to go solar by 2012

Sept. 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM   |   Comments

TOKELAU, New Zealand, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The South Pacific islands of Tokelau say they're committed to obtaining 93 percent of their electricity demand from solar power -- and the rest from coconuts.

Tokelau's leader Foua Toloa said this week solar energy will provide the majority of the electricity by the middle of next year and the rest will come from coconut oil, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

Motor vehicles and some cooking equipment will still be allowed to use fossil fuels but renewables will provide most of the nation's power needs, he said.

Around 1,500 people live on the three small Pacific atolls administered by New Zealand.

The islands' highest point is just 16 feet above sea level, making them vulnerable to rising ocean levels caused in great part by global warming from burning fossil fuels.

Tokelau currently relies on fossil fuels for its power, including kerosene, gasoline and natural gas, which are transported from New Zealand.

The new plan calls for each island's electricity grid to be fed by solar photovoltaic cells, with batteries to store excess electricity for the night.

During periods of overcast or when electricity demand exceeds solar supply, coconut oil will fuel a generator to supply power and recharge the batteries, officials said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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