In 2021, the pattern of electricity consumption in Tonga showed a significant divide between low-carbon energy and fossil fuel-based energy. While the data does not provide specific numbers, it is evident that the country's electricity generation remains below the global average of 410 watts per person. Such low levels of electricity production potentially present challenges for Tonga, including slow economic growth, restricted technological advancement, and limiting quality of life improvements for Tongan residents. Besides, the limited use of low-carbon energy, such as solar power, signals an untapped resource for clean, sustainable electricity generation, which could drastically reduce Tonga's carbon footprint.
To increase low-carbon electricity generation, Tonga can further develop its capacity for solar energy production, which already generates a considerable share of the nation's electricity. An examination of successful countries can provide useful insights. For instance, the solar energy revolution in the People's Republic of China and India, among others, demonstrates the substantial impact that dedicated solar projects can have on electricity generation. Although Tonga's size and resources differ substantially from these countries, it could still adopt a more focused approach, developing comprehensive strategies and policies to harness the abundant sunlight it receives. Furthermore, partnering with international stakeholders could also provide the technical and financial support required for such expansion.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Tonga, specifically solar energy, has remained largely static over the years. The records show that from 2017 to 2021, there was no discernible change in solar electricity generation. Although there wasn't a decrease in its generation, its apparent stagnation, especially in recent years, is a matter of concern. Drawing on this, it is clear that efforts to harness low-carbon electricity sources like solar energy have been insufficient. Consequently, there is substantial room for growth through thoughtful policymaking and strategic investments in the coming years, which would offer Tonga a more sustainable, greener energy future.