The first of four solar power stations commissioned under the Cook Islands Southern Renewable Energy Project will be officially opened on the island of Mitiaro this week, bringing the Cook Islands one step closer to its long-term renewable energy targets.
Said Prime Minister Henry Puna, “It is pleasing to see the Southern Group islands will soon begin to enjoy the benefits of solar-generated power, as has already been achieved in the Northern Group in 2015, with near elimination of fossil-fuel based electricity generation and an expected improvement in the reliability of supply for these islands.”
The official opening of the new power station will take place tomorrow, with the Mitiaro Island Government welcoming distinguished guests including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Kaumaiti Nui, as well as representatives from development partners.
The expected opening dates for the remaining southern island solar power stations are end of May for Mauke, end of June for Atiu, and July for Mangaia.
The installation of the new mini-grid power stations and solar photovoltaic arrays on the southern group islands of Mitiaro, Mauke, Atiu and Mangaia commenced last year, following the awarding of contracts to the New Zealand-based company Infratec/Netcon.
The project has been co-financed through grant funding from the European Union and the Global Environment Facility, the Japanese government’s Pacific Environment Community funds, and loan funding from the Asian Development Bank.
The completion of these islands’ power stations represents completion of Phase 1 of the Cook Islands Southern Renewable Energy Project.
Phase 2 targets a further transition of Aitutaki and Rarotonga towards increased solar-generated electricity supply.
The project’s scope was further extended in 2017 to integrate Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to improve grid stability on Rarotonga through additional grant financing of US$12million from the Green Climate Fund.