Maama Mai solar farm

The Maama Mai (let there be light) Solar Farm in Tongatapu, Tonga is an alliance between Meridian, Tonga Power and the governments of New Zealand and The Kingdom of Tonga. The project is funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme.

The solar farm is made up of 5,760 photovoltaic solar panels and can generate up to 1.32 megawatts of electricity. The Maama Mai solar farm reduces the country’s use of diesel by approximately 470,000 litres and decreases carbon emissions by over 2,000 tonnes per annum.

This is the first solar farm we’ve built in the Pacific, and the first renewable energy generation facility connected to Tonga’s electricity grid.

Tonga Power is responsible for operating and maintaining the facility. In 2017, full legal ownership of the solar farm will transfer to Tonga Power.

We will continue to provide asset management support to Tonga Power until 2017.

Why build a solar farm here

Before the solar farm, electricity generation in the Kingdom of Tonga was solely dependent on the costly importation of diesel fuel.

Maama Mai will provide around 4% of Tongatapu’s total electricity demand, helping Tonga towards its renewable energy target.

The solar farm will reduce the country’s use of diesel by approximately 470,000 litres and decrease carbon emissions by over 2,000 tonnes per annum. It will also help reduce electricity prices.

Solar generation compares favourably to other forms of renewable energy generation available to Tonga. It has low maintenance costs and is relatively quick to implement.

Building Maama Mai

In 2009, Meridian presented a proposal to the New Zealand Aid Programme identifying Samoa, American Samoa and The Kingdom of Tonga as suitable places to build solar farms.

The proposal coincided with the Tongan Government’s Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM), which is focused on reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on fossil fuel.

In 2011 the New Zealand Government, through the New Zealand Aid Programme, offered full funding of NZD$7.9 million for the Tonga solar farm project.

Meridian was lead developer on the project, using our solar expertise gained during construction of the CalRENEW-1 solar farm in California.

Key dates

  • 2011
    Construction begins
  • 2012
    Site works completed
  • 2012
    Maama Mai fully operational
  • 2017
    Legal ownership passes to Tonga Power