Murray McCully, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, has announced the investment of NZ$7.9m ($6.5m) to fund the construction of Tonga’s first solar plant, a 1.3 MW farm on the Tongan mainland Tongatapu.

The funding is part of a drive by the New Zealand government to boost clean energy options in the Pacific islands.

“This public-private partnership is an exciting approach to delivering aid that also represents a possible model for similar infrastructure projects in the Pacific,” said McCully.

Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tuivakano said that the investment would support his country’s ten-year plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel. Tonga plans to halve its use of fossil fuels for power generation by the end of 2012.

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