Prime minister Henry Puna was in Mauke to officially open the station, taking the nation a step closer to its goal of being totally reliant on renewable energy by next year.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the event was well attended by the island residents and government delegation.
Government and the Asian Development Bank led the launch of the station. The project is expected to provide clean and affordable electricity to the estimated 300 residents of the island.
Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the last islands left to come online under the ambitious renewable energy objective set by Puna at the 2014 Pacific Leaders Forum.
The bank said in a statement that the solar plant is the fourth to come online from the Cook Islands Renewable Energy Sector Project, which has been co-financed by the bank, the Government of Japan’s Pacific Environment Community Funds, the European Union, the Green Climate Fund, and the Global Environment Facility.
The bank’s senior energy specialist for the Pacific Cindy Tiangco says the Asian Development Bank is improving regional energy systems with a three-tiered approach that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy, maximises access to energy for all, and promotes energy sector reform, capacity building, and effective governance.
Other benefits of the project include increased electricity output from renewable energy sources, the introduction of a battery energy storage system and training provided for the operators, and the installation of smart meters-allowing consumers to use power they can afford.
In addition, streetlights will be installed and an awareness raising campaign promoting energy efficiency will be launched and conducted over the next two years.
The bank said it is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.