VAVA’U, TONGA (14 March 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Tonga and Australia today commissioned the Vava’u hybrid mini-grid as part of the cofinanced Tonga Renewable Energy Project. The new grid, which is cofinanced by the Green Climate Fund, will provide clean, reliable, and efficient electricity supply to the people and businesses of Vava’u.

Tonga Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Kiuta Vaipulu led the event together with Australian High Commissioner for Tonga Rachael Moore. The ceremony involved a plaque unveiling and site inspections.

“The Government of Tonga must be commended for its efforts toward reducing dependence on fossil fuels and in promoting clean energy sources,” said ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office Regional Director Aaron Batten during the event. “ADB is a long-standing partner of Tonga in the energy sector and our commitment to this partnership continues.”

The hybrid mini-grid will enhance the electricity supply services in Vava’u by providing clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power supply. The project will also support the Government of Tonga’s plan for decarbonizing its electricity sector. 

The mini-grid comprises a solar photovoltaic generation system of 0.3-megawatt (MW) capacity and a battery energy storage system of 1.0 MW/2.0 megawatt-hour (MWh) capacity to manage the renewable energy intermittency and also for load shifting—saving daytime generation for later usage. The hybrid mini-grid also includes control systems to efficiently manage renewable energy generation and maximize battery storage utilization.

A new solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage system on the outer island of 'Eua—also part of the Tonga Renewable Energy Project was commissioned on 2 March.

Tonga depends on imported diesel for over 75% of its electricity needs, and the high cost imposes a heavy burden on consumers and underpins the economic growth. The country is highly vulnerable to fluctuations in international fuel prices, and the government is planning to increase the renewable energy contribution to lower diesel imports, increase energy security, and reduce the cost of electricity.

The $12.2 million ADB financing is contributed from the Asian Development Fund (ADF). The ADF provides grants to ADB’s poorest and most vulnerable developing member countries. 

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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