7 Jul 2010

NZ to help Tonga build solar power plant

9:39 pm on 7 July 2010

New Zealand is to help fund the construction of a solar power plant in Tonga.

The move was announced by the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully at a start of a visit to Nuku'alofa.

He says the plant will be built and operated by Meridian Energy, with the power sold to the country's state-owned power company, Tonga Power Limited, under a long-term purchase agreement.

Mr McCully says the construction of the 1Mw plant will meet up to 5% of the electricity needs of the main island of Tongatapu.

The parties are hoping that construction can start early in 2011, with completion later the same year.

Last month, Tonga's king said the government was following development work in the United States on 30Mw nuclear power plants that could help reduce the kingdom's reliance on diesel.