A contract has been awarded to Germany-based Rolls-Royce Power Systems to supply three large energy storage units for Rarotonga’s power grid.
The units are housed in 40-foot containers, serving as a power reserve and providing grid support. Importantly, the energy storage units, which act as massive batteries, will enable the increased use of renewable energy.
A total of 4.2 megawatt hours of energy can be stored on the units.
According to cleanenergyauthority.com - a solar energy news and information resource – one megawatt hour of energy is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during one hour.
The units will be connected to the energy grid run by Te Aponga Uira, with installation work carried out by NZ-based Vector Powersmart.
Rarotonga’s electricity needs are currently being met by photovoltaic systems, diesel generators and once connected, the battery containers.
A similar storage unit was installed in 2019 in Aitutaki to assist the islands renewable energy efforts.
The installation is part of a $200 million push for renewables in Cook Islands and the Pacific region, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Program, the European Union, Global Environment Fund, the government of Japan, and the Green Climate Fund.
The Pacific Renewable Energy In vestment Facility will steer funds to the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
In 2011, Prime Minister Henry Puna set a target for electricity needs in Cook Islands to be met by 50 per cent renewable energy by 2015 and 100 per cent by the end of this year.
Since then, the government, with the support of donor partners, has made investments throughout the country, including the installation of solar and battery storage in the Northern Group, where 100 per cent of energy needs are met by renewables, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Solar power stations have also been installed in most Southern Group islands, leaving Rarotonga and Aitutaki as the remaining islands yet to convert to 100 per cent renewable energy.