There are questions about the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment for a new battery storage energy system being constructed behind the airport.
It’s part of the national renewable energy project being built by a local contractor.
National Environment Service’s Vavia Tangatataia said the construction would “have minimal with no significant impact to the surrounding environment”.
The manager of the advisory and compliance division said the battery storage site was well secured, within airport boundaries, and had gone through a normal building permit process, said Tangatataia.
But Kelvin Passfield, technical advisor of the local environment group Te Ipukarea Society, said an Environmental Impact Assessment was necessary for such project.
“I would have thought an EIA should have been done for the whole renewable energy project, which would have included the battery storage as a part of that EIA.
“For example, what happens to all the solar panels at the end of their life? Same with the batteries. They contain toxic components,” said Passfield.
The renewal energy project is co-founded by multiple international agencies. They include the Asian Development Bank, European Union, Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund.
In a 2016 initial environment examination report on the Rarotonga battery storage system, the Asian Development Bank identified potential environment impacts arising from the project.
However it recommended the project to be considered environmentally feasible.
The Asian Development Bank identified mitigation measures to ensure potential impacts were maintained at insignificant levels.
The report also included the institutional arrangement for implementing the Environmental Management Plan to ensure its effectiveness.
Questions regarding the battery storage site sent to the local electricity company Te Aponga Uira, which will oversee the facility, remained unanswered. The questions were sent two weeks ago.
The battery energy storage system for grid stability support is being installed at the Rarotonga Power Station of the electricity utility Te Aponga Uira.
It is connected to the power station main switchgear and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA).
The battery energy storage system is intended to provide reserve capacity, voltage and frequency control to the Rarotonga grid to enable increasing renewable generation in the grid.