Saturday, March 31, 2012

Living green on a small island

sounds easy, sustainable food, organic vegetables and so many resources to tap into, right? Well sometimes its not always what it seems. Being sustainable is a much more costly way of life........

We are lucky in many ways with the way things came about, we always wanted to run renewable energy but it seemed so expensive. At the time, it was not easy to install solar and wind on the main island in Vava'u,  you had to be so far from a power line and many little or large obstacles depending on how you look at things!  The land that we leased to build our house on was just that distance away, however we still had to get permission from the power company, the power board and many other delegations that just had an "interest". We did so legally and had all inspections and permits produced though it did take some time and many visits by different people. To have installed power cables and lines all the way to our house would have cost the equivalent as to the system we originally put in.

Our first set of batteries arrived, and not a surprise with shipping but they were damaged, we "5200'd" the damage and they lasted 1 year. Our second set of batteries, we run 8 x 6v batteries to make a 48v system turned up and were not damaged in shipping so we breathed a sigh of relief.  We are now on our 3rd set of batteries in 7 years and fingers crossed for a while. The biggest issue with renewable energy here is the cost to set it up, the cost to maintain and have spare parts and the time it takes to get the parts you need.

Today, we raised our second windmill, the first one did great and wind power here is by far the best to have. Fingers crossed, the first one was damaged when it fell off its post when I was in the US and though we could have fixed it we came across this one that could be something very good for not only us but businesses and communities here. So our trial begins today.....

Well I was hoping for pictures of the windmill moving, he he, however since putting it up we have had zero wind, typical but never mind, it will come. Luckily our solar panels have been filling our batteries up nicely.

The nice thing is being self sufficient, despite being expensive has worked in our favour. Hopefully the Tonga Renewable Energy Roadmap will go ahead and see island communities provided with solar panels for basic energy and the spread of renewable energy through tourism properties on the main island, reducing the demand on the generator power supply as of now.


  1. Great piece Karen I am going to forward to a friend at UC San Diego. It would be cool to see a series of posts from you (given where you are) that were directed at Grad students in sustainability. Big difference between reading and doing especially in a place where it is more challenging to get supplies and easy support. Cool post!

  2. HI Wayne
    Many thanks for the comments, I am hoping to do many like this on all areas here, glad that others may find it useful. Hope all is well with you.