Solar-powered hybrid energy systems are being set up on all six atolls in the northern Cooks, as part of a $20.5 million renewable energy project funded by New Zealand.
The Government needs to secure an area of land for the solar farms on each island, and it has now signed an agreement with the villagers of Roto in Pukapuka.
Although island leaders put their names to the agreement in June, the Government added its signature in Rarotonga on Friday.
Caretaker Finance MinisterMark Brown said the Pukapuka land agreement is worth about $100,000.
“It’s a one-off payment which works out at $20,000 per quarter acre, which comes to about $80,000. And then there’s some compensation for things like coconut trees, so the whole package comes to about $100,000.”
The land agreement is different to usual lease agreements; it allows the Government to use the land only so long as a solar farm is in place.
Brown said the Government was happy to secure the deal, allowing it to move forward with its renewable energy plans.
“That will be the site for the new solar farm. The work is really starting to roll out quickly now and we expect materials to be in Pukapuka next month.”
He said the farm will be similar to what is currently being built next to Rarotonga Airport, although smaller. A distribution network is also being built in Pukapuka.
This is the second land agreement signed so far, the other being between the Government and landowners in Palmerston, also worth about $100,000.
The northern group renewable energy project will see 5500 tonnes of equipment delivered to the atolls, including 1600 lead batteries and about 3500 solar panels.
Construction is scheduled to commence from next month.
The goal is to enable Manihiki, Rakahanga, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Nassau, and Palmerston to become 95 per cent reliant on renewable energy.