Remote island paradise to be powered by coconuts and sunshine

Sep 22, 2011 By Bryan Nelson

In the Malay language, the coconut palm is called "pokok seribu guna," meaning "the tree of a thousand uses." Make that one thousand and one. In just over a year's time, the entire chain of the Tokelau islands plans to get 100 percent of their energy from a heavenly mix of coconuts and sunshine, according to United Press International.

It is perhaps incontestably appropriate that an island paradise should power itself with its two most plentiful resources. The new should also help to make these tiny, vulnerable tropical atolls more self-sufficient, as well as send the world a message about the feasibility of locally sourced renewable energy.

Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, consists of three small atolls located roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. About 1,500 people call Tokelau home. Since the highest point on the islands is only 16 feet, they are particularly vulnerable to the threat of rising sea levels.

Under the new energy plan, most of the islands' power - 93 percent - is slated to come from . The coconut power will supply the remaining 7 percent, and will come into play when skies are overcast or when exceeds solar supply.

A recently conducted feasibility study for the plan found that each of Tokelau's three atolls will require 20 to 30 liters of per day to account for their needs, which can be supplied by about 200 coconuts. Since the islands are essentially covered in coconuts, that's a number that is easily sustainable.

Gasoline and , shipped in from New Zealand, will still be allowed for motor vehicles and some cooking equipment, but those needs are not great for islands of such a small size. Renewables will be required for everything else in a little more than a year, according to Tokelau's leader, Foua Toloa.

The need to go 100 percent renewable is particularly apparent for low-lying islands like Tokelau, as it is for other island nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Maldives, because of rising sea levels wrought by global warming. Current estimates suggest that these remote places could become uninhabitable by the end of the century if nothing is done to curb worldwide fossil fuel use. Residents of these island nations could be among the world's first climate change refugees.

Tokelau officials hope that by weaning islanders off fossil fuels, they can serve as an example to the rest of the world.

Explore further: Intel wireless charging in a bowl coming sooner than later

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Critical problems for fresh water supplies in Pacific

Aug 22, 2007

Despite high average annual rainfalls and balmy temperatures, an expert from The Australian National University warns that small island nations in the Pacific face freshwater supply and sanitation problems among the most ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

Sep 19, 2014

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

Sep 19, 2014

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

Sep 19, 2014

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Isaacsname
not rated yet Sep 22, 2011
That should keep Gilligan and the Skipper busy for a while.
RustyMustard
not rated yet Sep 22, 2011
What does it take to run a nation?

200 coconuts! Nice! Way to utilize an abundant local recource for decentralized self sufficiency. By my calculations that would take 2 men 20 to 40 minutes a day to supply the nation with energy.

My one man nation runs on sunshine, homegrown biomass and fallen oak trees. I don't have coconuts in the mountains so I use deadfall instead. Besides, you're being robbed if you're paying the 'man' for power. I'm lazy, way too lazy to be a slave so I can work 50 hours a week to buy power, instead I sit here and watch it make itself, all lazy-like.