The Tokelau islands seen above has become the first nation on earth to derive all of its electricity from solar rays. Phenomenal cosmic power! Iddy-biddy living space. preserving the small sliver of land the citizens of this New Zealand territory live on is probably their most obvious and best incentive for going solar.
Scientists predict that as Earth’s ice caps melt from climate change we may see a one foot rise in ocean levels by the end of the century. That may not seem like too much of a problem to us here in the United States, who can just move inland in the face of rising waters, but for people living on the three atolls of Tokelau, its a pretty big deal. Imagine what this NASA image would look like after a one foot rise in ocean level.
Many buy Solar Panels for Electricity Stability
Sun Electronics found its early success selling backup power systems to the Dominican Republic. Regular power failures in this country led to a high demand for backups. At the time solar panels were still too expensive for citizens of the Dominican Republic, but they could afford to invest in inverters and battery banks that ensured a steady stream of electricity. these backup systems built up charge from the utility grid when it was operating and provided continuous electricity in the face of blackouts.
Switching to Solar Saves Money
Everyone knows the upfront cost of buying solar panels from a company like Sun Electronics will be recouped in a few years through your electric bill savings. in the case of islands, which have to import fuel, this investment is recouped even faster.
Before Tokelau converted to solar electricity it was entirely dependent on diesel fuel for its electricity. Not only was burning diesel causing the waters to rise, but it was also costing the nation $825,000 a year to meet the electricity demand of Tokelau’s 1,500 people. Tokelau will recoup its investment in about eight and a half years, but remember solar panels are almost always guaranteed to last 25 years. That means Tokelau will profit at least 13 million in energy savings through their investment.
Solar Panels, Hawaii and California
Hawaii is neck and neck with California to hold the title of leading state in solar panel proliferation. Their problem is that the boom is growing too fast for their regulators.
Some local circuits in each of these states are about to have 15 percent of their peak demand powered by solar electricity. When they reach that milestone, unfortunately, regulators will slap them with expensive review requirements to determine whether the addition of solar is connecting responsibly with the grid.
These regulations were initially put in place to make sure the exploding solar industry in these states didn’t destabilize the grid and cause power surges and blackouts. However, after citizens began complaining that the 15 percent mark was too low, these states started the process of easing their regulations.
Hawaii, which as an island nation has the most to gain from solar, was the first to have its Public Utilities Commission reduce the regulation. Hawaiian solar projects are now allowed to skip a full review when their solar panels produce less than 50 percent of their local circuit’s minimum daily energy use.
A recent study by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), found the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has increased by a factor of 10 since 2005. With the declining cost of solar panels, hopefully this momentum will continue to gain speed. Look to the islanders to lead the way.
1) Falk, Tyler. Meet the World’s First Solar Powered Nation. Smart Planet. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/meet-the-worlds-first-100-solar-powered-nation/4887?fb_action_ids=10101572996628992&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582. Nov. 8, 2012.
2) Gallucci, Maria. Hawaii, California Removing Barrier Limiting Rooftop Solar Projects. Inside Climate News. http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20111221/hawaii-california-rooftop-solar-panels-15-percent-threshold-renewable-energy. Dec. 23, 2011.