August 27, 2014 18:55 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

  • An Israeli army officer gives explanations to journalists during an army organised tour in a tunnel said to be used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, July 25, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed regional leaders to nail down

    Audio Tunnel Warfare: From Gaza to North Korea

    North Korea suspected of digging tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone to aid in attack on South Korea. More

  • Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.

    Audio Israel and the Palestinians Agree to Truce

    The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have also announced an agreement to begin talks about a possible cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. And, in Hollywood, 'Breaking Bad' wins Emmy for best drama series | In the News More

  • This composite image made available by NASA and assembled by data acquired from the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012 uses the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), to show the U.S's lights at night.

    Audio Is North Korea Preparing to Strike US Electric Grid?

    An advisor to Congress says country’s electric system is mostly unprotected and vulnerable to an EMP attack. He said North Korea tested the plan last year when it put a satellite into orbit. The satellite was in a position where it could carry out such an attack against the United States. More

  • Residents of Tabqa city tour the streets on motorcycles, carrying flags in celebration after Tabqa air base fell to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014. Islamic State militants stormed the air base in northeast Syria on Sunday, c

    Audio Syria Asks for Help to Fight Islamic State

    Syria is willing to work with the international community in the fight against Islamic State militants. Ukrainian official Russian tanks and other military vehicles had crossed into southeastern Ukraine. Mourners sang, clapped and danced on Monday at funeral services for Michael Brown. More

  • Researchers have developed a blood test that predicts Alzheimer's disease

    Audio Scientist Developing Blood Test for PTSD

    There may some day be a blood test to find out if someone suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or is at risk for the psychiatric condition. More

Featured Stories

  • A cocoa farmer and some of her crop in southern Vietnam.

    Audio Raw Chocolate Is Better For Your Health

    Is Chocolate Good For Us? Or Just Good. The experts may disagree on that point. But most agree that raw chocolate could be the healthiest type yet. More

  • File - San Petchrod, 47, lays in bed where he is being treat for malaria at Sai Yoke hospital, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, Oct. 26,2012.

    Audio Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

    Doctors are worried about a type of malaria spreading in South East Asia that is not responding to usual treatments. Doctors can still treat infected patients with stronger drug cocktails. But they worry that it is just a matter of time before those medicines also become ineffective. More

  • Audio Taylor Swift Releases New Single

    The artist also announced that a new album, '1989,' will be out in late October. Swift says the sound will be all pop | American Mosaic More

  • Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

    Audio Lincoln-Douglas Debates Set the Stage for the 1860 Election

    Democrat Stephen Douglas was seeking re-election as a U.S. senator from Illinois. His opponent was a lawyer from the new Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln. | The Making of a Nation More

  • sleep

    Audio While You Sleep, Your Brain Works

    While we sleep, our brains are doing much more than getting ready for the next day. Researchers at the University of Rochester found that the brain may be busy cleaning house -- cleaning out harmful waste materials. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs