Tuvalu (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Petroleum replaced biomass as the largest energy source in the 1990s.

The electricity supply includes 2.4 MW of capacity on the capital island Funafuti, 260 kW of capacity on Vaitupu and from 160-180 kW on the other islands (excluding Niulakita where solar power is used).

In 2008, the first pilot model of a 40 kW grid-connected solar power system on the Islands of Tuvalu, the e8 Tuvalu Solar Power Project, was inaugurated, accounting for about 5% of Funafuti’s (Tuvalu’s capital) peak demand, and 3% of Tuvalu’s Electricity Corporation (TEC) annual household consumption. In 2009, the government of Tuvalu announced its intention to expand the project’s original capacity from 40 kW to 60 kW and to replicate the implementation of similar solar systems in outer islands.

In 2008, Tuvalu generated 4 GW of electricity of which renewable sources account for 0%.

Close Energy sources


All fossil fuels for Tuvalu have to be imported.

Close Reliance

Extend network

About 92% of the total households are connected to the diesel electricity grid.

Close Extend network

Capacity concerns

Technical losses are estimated to be 9%-10% which is somewhat high but non-technical losses are low at 4% to 5%.

Reliability of the electricity grid has historically been good. At the moment, the outer islands have a surplus generation capacity.

Close Capacity concerns

Renewable energy

Hydro power
Hydropower resources are not available as there are no rivers.

Solar energy
The rainy season lasts from November to April, but rain fall is not continuous. Located at 8 degrees south latitude, good solar radiation of more than 5 kWh/m2/day is expected throughout the year. The solar resource has therefore been proven sufficient to power solar home systems reliably. The resource in central Tuvalu is estimated at about 5.5kWh/m2/day with higher values to the north and lower values to the south.

Biomass energy
Biomass is limited since most of the land is covered by coconut trees that have more economic value as coconut producers than as fuel. Biomass for energy is hampered by the poor soils that make recovery of the resource slow and by the limited land area that generally can be used more profitably for something other than growing fuel. However, there can be a significant amount of biomass made available through replanting of the senile trees if the coconut industry is revived by conversion to biofuel production.

The potential for biofuel is the largest of any renewable energy resource available.  The coconut oil has sufficient capacity to provide a high percentage of the replacement of diesel fuel used for power generation without much rehabilitation. There is significant potential for biogas production from pig manure.

Wave energy
There is a moderate wave energy resource in Tuvalu. Although there is a large Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion resource, there are no commercially available OTEC generators, especially at the small size needed by Tuvalu. Regarding tidal energy resources, the island sits on a highly porous coral shelf which does not allow storing significant amounts of water.

Wind energy
A feasibility study conducted by the e8 members from Japan in 2006 identified wind as potential renewable energy sources to be explored for electricity generation. According to the study, wind measurements showed sufficient wind power only between the months of November and March, and the lack of good wind synopsis points, due to the low lying atolls, poses an additional challenge. Danish-funded Pacific Islands Energy Policy and Strategic Action Planning (PIEPSAP) project funded a wind measuring programme. Wind measurement studies have been carried out in Funafuti for a period of two years and PIGGAREP is to provide financial support for further feasibility studies and assessment of wind power generation potential on the atolls.

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Energy efficiency

Growth both in the land transport sector and electricity sector is expected to occur at a 3% to 4% rate over the next 10 years. LPG is expected to grow at nearly double that rate while kerosene use for households is expected to decline equally rapidly.

The current CO 2 production is estimated at about 10.3 Gg/year with a 2013 projection of 13.0 Gg assuming no addition of renewable energy or energy efficiency measures. With the maximum expected use of solar energy and biofuels by 2013 saving about 0.8 Gg per year and energy efficiency measures saving about 1.4 Gg per year, a 17% reduction in GHG production in 2013 appears possible.

The New Zealand Aid Programme is assisting with the establishment of a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Unit (REEEU) within the Tuvalu Electricity Corporation (TEC). The aim of this Unit is to help Tuvalu reduce its dependence on imported diesel, reduce carbon emissions, improve the efficiency of power generation and supply, increase the operational effectiveness of the TEC, and develop a plan for infrastructure development for greater use of solar and wind based energy generation.

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The Tuvalu Electricity Corporation (TEC, is 100% owned by the government of Tuvalu and has exclusive rights to supply electricity to all the islands. It is one of the first corporations that the Government of Tuvalu have had approved and declared it as a Government corporation entity on the 20th December 1990 and renamed it from Tuvalu Electricity Authority (TEA). TEA was originally a department operated under the Ministry of Works. TEC’s vision states “powering Tuvalu with Renewable Resources” and its mission is “to profitably provide clean, reliable, affordable and safe electricity to the people of Tuvalu. We aim to provide all energy through renewable resources by 2020.” The company website is still under construction and the information is limited. 

The Tuvalu Solar Electric Cooperative Society (TSECS), formerly in charge of 400 PV systems on the outer islands, has been deregistered as a cooperative and no longer provides electricity services, due to corruption and mismanagement. The remaining panels and customers are now part of the government.

Close Ownership


There is no competition in power generation. All electricity is produced and distributed by the Tuvalu Electricity Corporation (TEC) and all fossil fuels are imported by British Petroleum (BP).  The electricity sector is fully vertically integrated. Although TEC is monopolising the energy market in the whole of Tuvalu, the government always offers supported grants and subsidies to sustain a lower tariff to supply affordable energy to all. In order to realise its long-term plans that the whole of Tuvalu Islands will be 100% using clean energy by towards the end of the next decade, TEC may seek assistance from government donor countries to fund the plans.

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Energy framework

The country announced its National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) 2005-2015 in 2005. In July 2004, the NSSD chose a development strategy by national consensus, including the areas judged to be the development priorities: good governance; economic growth; job creation; more economic opportunity; better health and education; improved basic infrastructure; social development (youth, housing, gender equality, sports and recreation); natural resources (agriculture, fisheries, tourism, environment); and social stability. Each strategic development priority has a vital role to play to attain the “Vision”: To achieve a healthier, more educated, peaceful and prosperous Tuvalu. The Outer Island Development: Priorities and Strategies 2005-2015 within the NSSD includes provide a better infrastructure including renewable energy technologies.

Tuvalu National Energy Policy (TNEP), released  in May 2009, targets a time frame of 15 years and focuses on:

  • Energy Sector Planning, Co-ordination, and Management
  • Petroleum
  • Transport
  • Electricity
  • Renewable Energy
  • Energy Conservation and Efficiency
  • Environment

The TNEP aims to promote the development of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biofuel to broaden energy sources in Tuvalu. More specifically, proposes reviving the solar energy company that ceased operating because of poor management. In addition, the policy calls for energy efficiency measures in all sectors.

The policy does not outline detailed plans on how to achieve the goals, nor is there much reference to the role of the private sector. These should become clear as the Ministry of Public Utilities and Industries starts to develop implementation strategies and work plans.

Tuvalu government announced its target to have all its energy generated from renewable sources by 2020. It estimates that it will cost about $20m to generate all its electricity by using renewable.

The Tuvalu Sustainable Energy Interventions initiative aims to improve public awareness on energy conservation and energy efficiency in the country. It develops capacity of technicians to maintain solar-diesel hybrid systems and solar PV stand-alone home systems in outer islands. The project also adds value to proposed Italian-funded renewable energy project “Tuvalu Photovoltaic Electricity Network Integration" (TPVENI) and enables resource mobilization to sustain programme.

Tuvalu activities identified under the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Programme (PIGGAREP) will build on 3 key initiatives: (1) The Tuvalu Grid-connected PV training and installation project, (2) The Alofa Tuvalu's Amatuku Project to implement biogas digesters, a small coconut biodiesel plant, a small windmill and PV systems, and (3) Pacific Islands Cooperation Programme with the Government of Italy and IUCN to install a 40 kW PV system, to feed into the existing diesel grid system, and solar street lights in one of the outer islands - Vaitupu island (Tuvalu Photovoltaic Electricity Network Integration Project - TPVENIP). The project will contribute to reducing the country’s dependence on diesel generation and reduce operational costs to TEC. In addition, it will bring about a savings of about 109 tonnes of CO2 per annum (assuming 30% efficiency). The system was planned to be commissioned in November 2010.

The European Community, through the EDF-10 program, is proposing a EUR4.4m project for the Water and Energy sector. One of the three objectives is to increase the use of renewable energy as a proportion of national energy consumption.

Tuvalu is part of the GEF Pacific Alliance for Sustainability (GPAS) programme under the “Low Carbon Energy Islands- Accelerating the Use of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technologies” initiative.

A Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Unit (REEEU) will be established within TEC with a support of New Zealand. New Zealand also assists with the development of a Master Energy Plan that will likely identify subsequent renewable energy investments and systematic energy sector and investment planning coordinated with the Tuvalu Infrastructure Plan.  

The Tuvalu Initial National Communication, released in 1999, documents some of the early identified needs and vulnerabilities of the country. It set the stage for development of Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). Released in 2007, the NAPA provides detailed information about the current and possible future impacts of climate change on this island nation. The need to adapt to the impacts of climate change is also highlighted in the NSSD 2005-2015.

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Energy debates

In an effort to ensure financial stability and sustainability, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatisation of some government functions and personnel cuts.

Another driver is the imminent threat of climate change and related sea level rise. The government of Tuvalu wants to set an example of reducing its own emissions of greenhouse gasses. The NSSD 2005-2015 therefore includes a goal of establishing national climate change policy addressing both mitigation and adaptation. To this end, in May 2011, it was announced that the government of Tuvalu will work with the UNDP and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the “Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change” (PACC) project to develop a climate change policy. Funding has been provided by the Global Environment Facility, and a project team comprised of governmental and international experts established. The government envisions that a climate change policy will assist in the coordination and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies.

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Energy studies

The potential for renewable energy in Tuvalu is covered well in the Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Project (PIREP), but slightly outdated. The Pacific Islands Energy Policy and Strategic Action Planning (PIEPSAP) project provides good insight in the development of energy conservation strategies and energy policy.

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Role of government

The Energy Department within the Ministry of Works and Energy is in charge of the development of energy policy, the administration of renewable energy projects and regulation of the storage and sale of petroleum fuels.

Close Role of government

Government agencies


The Energy Department within the Ministry of Works and Energy is also in charge of sustainable energy programmes.



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Energy procedure

The UNEP’s proposed project “PAS Low Carbon-Energy Islands - Accelerating the Use of Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Technologies in Tuvalu, Niue and Nauru”, under the umbrella project “GEF Pacific Alliance for Sustainability” aims to remove major barriers to the widespread and cost-effective use of grid-based decentralized embedded RE supply and to the introduction of energy conservation measures.  The project is expected to be approved in December 2012 and to run for three years.

The overall goal of the project is the ‘Reduction of the participating countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by reducing fossil fuels use through renewable energy and energy conservation’. The project’s goal will be achieved by outcomes and activities geared towards the objective which is the ‘Removal of major barriers to the widespread and cost-effective use of grid-based renewable energy supply and to the introduction of energy conservation measures’. To achieve this objective, the project will build structures (i.e.; policy, institutional, market, and financing), knowledge, skills, awareness and understanding among policy makers, stakeholders and the general public in the three countries and beyond on the importance and benefits of establishing sustainable low carbon energy systems. The project will be concentrating on decentralized embedded renewable energy systems financed and maintained by the private sector (businesses and households) and also, private-public sector partnerships. This is in contrast to the current approach of focusing on utility-scale centralized RE (mostly PV) systems.

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Energy regulator

There is no independent energy regulator; and Tuvalu’s electric power industry is under the supervision of the Ministry of Works and Energy. In 1990 the status of TEC changed from a Government Division to that of a corporation with the sole rights to supply electricity to all of Tuvalu under the Tuvalu Electricity Authority Corporation Act. The Act does not explicitly assign the TEC as regulator, but regulates issues such as the imposition of Australian standards for wiring and safety in electricity system installation and servicing.

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Degree of independence

The board of the TEC consists of directors who are appointment by the Ministry of Works and Energy. The Minister also appoints the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the TEC.

Close Degree of independence

Regulatory framework

There is no reference to the environment or sustainable energy in the Tuvalu Electricity Authority Corporation Act from 1990.

Close Regulatory framework

Regulatory roles

Tariffs are effectively set by cabinet after being proposed by the Board of Directors of the TEC.

Close Regulatory roles

Energy regulation role

The government, mainly through the Ministry of Works and Energy, is closely involved in key decisions of the Tuvalu Electricity Authority (TEC) and therefore in energy regulation.

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Regulatory barriers

The subsidised price for electricity generated by fossil fuels is hampering the development of renewable energy. There is limited land available for the development of large scale renewable energy initiatives (such as biofuels) and the current land tenure regulations do not deal with this issue. While the government is committed to further exploring the use of alternative sources of energy owing to the rising fuel costs and the desire to reduce greenhouse gases, n concrete steps have been taken in this direction and the issue of overburdening power bills on the national budget is a growing concern.

Close Regulatory barriers


e8 (2009) The Tuvalu Solar Power Project: Decreasing Reliance on Fuel and Enhancing Renewable Energy-Based Electrification in the Small Island State of Tuvalu. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

IRENA (c2010) Renewable Energy Country Profile – Tuvalu, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

SPREP (2010) Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project (PIGGAREP) - Tuvalu Interventions. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

PRIF (2010) PRIF Newsletter, Issue 3, July 2010, Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF). Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Tuvalu Electricity Corporation website. [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Tuvalu Government (2005) TE KAKEEGA II National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2005-2015 Economic Research and Policy Division, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries, November 2005. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

IUCN (2009) Tuvalu Vows to Go Carbon Neutral by 2020, News story, 22 July 2009. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

ALM (2011) Tuvalu, Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM). Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

IUCN (n.d.) Pacific SIDS EESLI - Tuvalu Project. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

Mayhew, J. (2011) New Zealand Aid Progarmme - Energy in the Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, power point presentation at the IRENA Workshop, 26-28 October 2011. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

GEF (2012): PAS Low Carbon-Energy Islands - Accelerating the Use of Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Technologies in Tuvalu, Niue and Nauru. Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013]

European Community (2007) Tuvalu – European Community EDF 10: Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme (For the period 2008-2013). Available at: [Accessed 14th September 2013] Close References