The Kingdom of Tonga, an island state in the south-west Pacific with a total surface area of 750 square kilometres and a population of around 110,000 people, is one of the poorest countries in the world. DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbh, is now funding an electromobility pilot project in Tonga. Private partner is the Kirchner Solar Group GmbH (Kirchner) from Alheim (Hesse). Kirchner contributes 215,000 euros to the project. DEG complements this amount by 200,000 euros from funds of the “Climate Partnership with the Private Sector” programme of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
The aim of the pilot project is to test electric zero-emission tuk tuks and boats in long-term operation. Eight prototypes have now been handed over by Kirchner to the local partner. The electric vehicles are less expensive than those running with conventional fuel and require little maintenance. The findings from the pilot phase are to be used for developing a sustainable mobility concept for small island states.
The electricity needed for operating the vehicles comes from photovoltaic systems, which are also part of the pilot project, just like the accompanying charging stations. In addition, some harbours will be equipped with solar-powered cooling devices, which the fishermen can use to store and sell their catch, according to demand. A further component of the pilot project is to explore how electromobility can contribute to improving earning opportunities especially for the poorer part of the population, for example by offering cheap transport of people and goods.
The majority of Tonga’s electricity has so far been generated from fossil fuels. The energy demand is growing strongly due to the economic and social development. The specifications of the Tonga Energy Road Map aim to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in dependence on fossil fuels and to improve people’s quality of life by lowering CO² emissions by 2020.
The initiative “Climate Partnerships with the Private Sector” of BMUB and DEG mobilizes private sector actors and capital in order to combat climate change, thereby contributing to meeting the global climate change objectives. It supports implementation and dissemination of innovative technologies in the fields of power generation, trade, industry and transport.