July 05, 2015 17:43 UTC

Science & Technology

South Pacific Islands Now Totally Powered by the Sun

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

A renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. (Photo: UN/Ariane Rummery)A renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. (Photo: UN/Ariane Rummery)
x
A renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. (Photo: UN/Ariane Rummery)
A renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. (Photo: UN/Ariane Rummery)

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the TECHNOLOGY REPORT in Special English.
                     
Officials say the islands of Tokelau in the South Pacific Ocean have become the world’s first territory totally powered by the sun.  The move is expected to save money and ease the environmental burden of depending on imported fossil fuels.
 
New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister released a statement about The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project.  Murray McCully said Tokelau’s three main atolls, or islands, now have enough solar capacity to meet all of their electricity needs. He said until now, Tokelau has been one hundred percent dependent on diesel for producing electricity. That, he said, has burdened the country with heavy economic and environmental costs.

                                         
The three atolls of Tokelau are Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. The group of islands is about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and is administered by New Zealand. Together they have about one thousand five hundred citizens.
         
Each atoll received its own solar power grid system. New Zealand officials estimated the cost of the project to build the three solar grids at around seven million dollars. The last of the grids was completed earlier this month.
                             
It is estimated that oil imports make up to thirty percent of national income in some parts of the Pacific. The move to solar power could save Tokelau about one million dollars a year. One project coordinator said Tokelau would now be able to spend more on social programs to help its citizens.
                                                                   
Other South Pacific islands are attempting similar projects. The island nations of Samoa and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by twenty-twenty. The Cook Islands plans to start moving to solar panels and wind turbines. And most houses in the South Pacific groups of islands will begin to use solar water heaters.
                                                                           
East Timor's government has promised that no households in the capital, Dili, would be using firewood for cooking by twenty fifteen. It also says  fifty percent of the country's electricity will come from renewable sources by the end of the decade.
                                                  
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the country will hold a Pacific energy summit in March next year. He said the meeting would build on the success of clean and affordable energy solutions for Tokelau, Tonga, and the Cook Islands.
                                        
And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. We’re also on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tak from: Japan
12/10/2012 4:52 PM
To supply power by renewable sources sounds great. I hope my country Japan also can be successful for getting this system although it is not easy. Therefore, Japan should tackle this issue with our best. In addition, to achieve this project, I think that investing national budget and using power from nuclear could be one of the options for us. Of course, the safety of nuclear power plant sould be examined carefully frist of all.


by: Shige from: Japan
11/29/2012 3:57 AM
To get electricity from renewable sources such as sun power is so nice. I agree with it.
For the first time, I know that the islands of Tokelau aim to become the world's first territory totally powered by the sun.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/28/2012 2:07 AM
It's great whole electricty demand is eventually provided by solar power in the islands of Tokelau. Although equiping and renewing costs seem higher, I suppose low running cost of solar panels would actually cut back badget for electricity supply enough to use left money for welfare.

In Japan, solar grid power system is also getting attention and it is planed to increase solar panels after the last year's collapse of neclear power plants. Yet we would be disadvantageous as we have only about eighteen hundred hours of sunlights per year compared to around two thousand and five-hundred hours in the South Pacific Ocean.


by: Akb from: Akihabara
11/27/2012 11:33 PM
This is a good project for small islands economy but there is no effect of worldwide environment problems.
Big economy countries should do something.

Learn with The News

  • President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 1, 2015.

    Video US, Cuban Embassies to Reopen

    The move ends more than 50 years of tensions between the two countries. Many countries, groups support the decision by President Obama. But the US Congress could refuse to provide money to open an American embassy in Havana. | In The News More

  • Blue Point Oysters from New York's Great South Bay

    Video Oysters Return to New York’s Great South Bay

    The Blue Point oyster is returning to the Great South Bay of New York after almost disappearing from the world marketplace. Over-farming, pollution and Hurricane Sandy had severely damaged the Blue Point oyster business. Now, the population is growing in its home on the coast of Long Island. More

  • People-Lewis Black

    Video Summer 2015 Brings Movies for Toddlers to Teens

    A girl's emotions star in 'Inside Out,' an animation from Pixar. 'Minions' is the story of the little yellow creatures from the 'Despicable Me' series. Don't like cartoon movies? Try "Paper Towns' based on a John Green book or 'Ricki and the Flash' starring Meryl Streep and daughter Maggie Gummer. More

  • Nigeria disabled people making tricycles for others with disabilities

    Video Nigerian Group Provides Training For People with Disability

    In Nigeria, about 20 million people have some kind of physical disability. They have physical problems that make it difficult to find work and hold a job. Some of the disabled end up on city streets, asking strangers for help. But in Kaduna, a group of disabled men has been teaching them work skills More

  • Video France's 'Freedom Frigate' to Celebrate 4th of July

    A warship from France that came to the United States 235 years ago became a sign of friendship between the two countries. The French ship traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to help defeat the British during the American revolutionary war. Now a full-scale replica has been making that same trip. More

Featured Stories

  • People-Lewis Black

    Video Summer 2015 Brings Movies for Toddlers to Teens

    A girl's emotions star in 'Inside Out,' an animation from Pixar. 'Minions' is the story of the little yellow creatures from the 'Despicable Me' series. Don't like cartoon movies? Try "Paper Towns' based on a John Green book or 'Ricki and the Flash' starring Meryl Streep and daughter Maggie Gummer. More

  • Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Audio Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Some common mistakes in English happen when speakers confuse adjectives and adverbs. And some adverbs look the same but have opposite meanings. Do not fear, the Everyday Grammar expert is here to sort it all out for you. Learn why -ly usually (but not always) tells you a word is an adverb. More

  • Audio Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About the 4th of July

    Sure, you know Americans celebrate their Independence Day on the fourth day of July. But do you know they have the wrong date? Or where they get all those fireworks? Hint: not from the UK. More

  • Audio Independence Day

    Independence Day is a huge celebration in the United States. People celebrate by having parades and picnics and usually end the day with fireworks. So what do some of these words mean? More

  • Video The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien, Part One

    This story by a little-known American writer tells of a young man with a strong desire. He wants to learn how to use a microscope to see a tiny world. He tries to talk with a ghost to learn a secret from the inventor of the microscope. What will happen when he tries to build his own microscope? More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs