Entura helps Cook Islands reach renewable milestone

Entura senior renewable energy specialist Dr Chris Blanksby at the new hybrid renewable energy system in Mitiaro

Entura has helped the Cook Islands achieve the next milestone in its push to reduce reliance on diesel fuel and move towards the country’s renewable energy goals.

The Cook Islands is a group of 15 small islands in the Pacific, northeast of New Zealand.

Of the 12 inhabited islands in the group, Entura’s work addresses the conversion of the power supply of six southern islands from mainly diesel generation to solar/battery hybrid systems that will supply 100 per cent of the populations’ energy needs.

“Energy security and self-sufficiency are essential for remote islands such as the Cook Islands,” Entura managing director Tammy Chu said.

“Diesel fuel remains the single largest expense to generate power in these remote locations, so using renewable energy makes good economic sense as well as reducing carbon and other emissions.”

The hybrid renewable energy project on the southern island of Mitiaro, the first of the six islands, is now operational and was officially opened last week.

Mitiaro can now switch off its diesel generators and run entirely on reliable solar and battery power.

Hybrid energy projects on another three southern islands – Atiu, Mangaia and Mauke – will be completed in coming months, followed by a range of other initiatives on a further two islands, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, which have higher power demands.

Power systems will be upgraded to increase levels of renewable energy generation and provide control systems and battery storage technology to manage high levels of renewables.

The new renewable energy developments will expand the island populations’ access to modern, reliable energy services, enable energy security and reduce reliance on emissions-intensive diesel fuel.

Entura is providing Owner’s Engineer services for these projects, undertaking concept studies and proposing optimum solutions to achieve the project objectives, assessing technical, environmental, social and economic viability, supporting procurement and overseeing implementation.

Entura has also delivered strategic advice to assist with energy policy development for the Cook Islands.

“Enabling safe and sustainable renewable power developments that make a positive and enduring contribution to communities is very important to us, and we are pleased to bring our expertise to assist our Pacific neighbours with their renewable energy journeys,” Ms Chu said.

Along with the similar systems previously completed on six Northern Group islands, Entura’s work with the six southern island projects will achieve significant progress towards the Cook Islands’ target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

Cook Islands Government director of renewable energy development Tangi Tereapii said the commitment to renewable energy is a “fundamental prerequisite” to sustainable development.

“It also underlines the government’s commitment to addressing climate change, preserving the country’s pristine environment and ecosystems, and also strengthening the level of energy security and therefore sustainable economic growth,” he said.

Funding for the project includes an Asian Development Bank loan of NZD12.98 million; a European Union Grant of €5.3 million; committed funding from the Global Environment Facility of USD4.1 million; a product grant of Pacific Environment Community (PEC) of USD3.9 million; and government allocation for dedicated resource and land compensation.