Timor-Leste Turns To The Sun

Country Overview

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is located on the eastern half of the island of Timor. Timor-Leste is bordered by Indonesia on the western half of the Island of Timor, the Savu Sea and Timor Sea. The population of Timor Leste is approximately 1.36 million people.

The Portuguese first settled on the island of Timor in 1520. In 1893, the governments of The Netherlands and Portugal signed treaties recognizing the eastern half of the island as a Portuguese colony. In November 1975, the indigenous people gained control of the government and declared the Democratic Republic of East Timor a sovereign nation.

In December 1975, the military of the Republic of Indonesia invaded East Timer and declared the territory to be an integral part of the country. In 1999, East Timor was declared a self-governing territory, under United Nation’s supervision. In April 2002, Xanana Gusmão was elected the first president of the sovereign nation of  the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

In 2022, Timor-Leste’s economy was ranked 154th  in the world in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s economy is dependent on the export of crude oil, liquified natural gas, coffee, scrap iron, and insulated wire.

Environmental Policies

In 2017, Timor-Leste signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing to a series of greenhouse gas emissions programs including use of renewable energy to electrify rural areas and energy efficiency for cookstoves.

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2021, 100% of the people of Timor Leste had access to electricity. In 2021, Timor-Leste state-owned utility, Electricidade de Timor-Leste Empresa Pública only used refined petroleum (100%) to generate electricity across the country.

Recent renewable energy projects in Timor-Leste include:

  • 300 kW Solar Project In January 2023, a photovoltaic solar system, which will produce 400,000 kWh of electricity was commissioned in the United Nations office in the capital of Timor-Leste, Dili.
  • Solar Technology Training Program – In November 2022, eighty people were trained on solar photovoltaic technology by the United Nations Development Program. The training program will enable more installation of solar panels in remote areas of Timor-Leste.


In 1974, Australian company, Woodside Energy Commercial discovered the Greater Sunrise natural gas and condensate field off the coast of Timor-Leste. In 2021, Timor-Leste produced 213.3 Billion Cubic Feet (BCF) of dry natural gas and 5.1 Million Barrels of oil and condensate.

Oil and natural gas are now the cornerstone of Timor-Leste’s economy. In 2021, Timor-Leste exported U.S. $210 Million in crude oil and U.S. $58.8 Million in liquified natural gas.

Although Timor-Leste exports crude oil and natural gas, it must import refined petroleum for vehicles and the power plants that generate the nation’s electricity. In 2021, Timor-Leste imported U.S. $114 Million for refined petroleum for power generation and transportation.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place embargos on Russian exports. As a result, the price for crude oil and natural gas increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Timor-Leste is turning to solar for electricity and to also conserve oil and natural gas oil for export.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jack kerfoot.com


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.

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