Tonga belongs to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the ‘SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway’ (A/69/L.6). “The Samoa Pathway” using SAMOA as an example of SIDS, recognizes the adverse impacts of climate change and the rise of sea-levels on SIDS’ efforts to achieve sustainable development.
Improvement of energy security through sustainable channels is one of such efforts in Tonga for achieving economic prosperity. According to “Tonga Country Energy Security Indicator Profile 2009” prepared by the SPC, the total electrification rate was 89% and rural energy access to modern forms of energy was still at 73%. The electricity tariff in 2009 amounted to USD 0.36/kWh in 2009 as the household energy burden averaged 14%. This data is based on the census of 2006. Taking the case of electrification rate, the improvement has reached 97% in the latest census of 2016.
Another important issue to be considered in the improvement of energy security is the role of renewables. According to Tonga Power Limited (“Combined Utilities Business Plan 2018-2022”), the current share of fuel cost in the electricity tariff is about 48% (41.51 seniti/kWh) of the total (85.86 seniti/kWh – about 0.38 USD/kWh). This part can be reduced by using domestic renewables such as solar power to replace imported diesel fuels. Thus, the contribution of renewable PV to energy security and energy access is significant. But how significant?
To understand the significance of the role of various aspects of energy on national economy and national security, data is of critical importance. Particularly quantitative data that enables ‘evidence-based practices’. It also helps to think about substantive measures in mitigating associated risks. Without quantitative data on energy supply and demand, it is difficult to identify the sources of these risks and their impact on welfare. By the same token, if data is available, there are chances to mitigate and improve the status of energy security using appropriate policy responses and ensuring that the country meets the “Tonga Energy Road Map” and “Sustainable Development Goals”.