25 Jun 2013

Pukapuka and Nassau to go solar

5:11 pm on 25 June 2013

Funding has been approved for a project that will see solar panels installed on the outer Cook Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau.

Currently, the islands rely on diesel generators that provide only a few hours of electricity a day, but the solar panels will provide a constant 24-hour supply of renewable energy.

The director of Renewable Energy Development for the Cook Islands government, Tangi Tereapii, told Jamie Tahana that donor funding has been approved by the Japanese government and the project is starting to get underway.

TANGI TEREAPII: The funding was approved a couple of weeks ago and the tender has now gone out to the Japanese companies, who will be competing for the supply and installation of the Pukapuka Nassau renewable energy project.

JAMIE TAHANA: And what kind of renewable energy are we looking at? Solar? Wind? What kind of project is this?

TT: OK. The renewable energy resources we use in the northern group islands, it's mainly solar photovoltaic and batteries. This will be the technology to be used in the northern group and it will be in a mini grid system. And this will be centralised with one power station and will be distributed to all households.

JT: So the situation now is it's largely diesel and there's supply problems with this, isn't there?

TT: Yes, it's 100% diesel. And the project will replace 95% of that with renewable energy.

JT: This renewable energy, will it be 24 hours of electricity?

TT: Yes, this will be a 24-hour supply for the islands. As we know the supply now is only for 10, 12 hours a day, and we'll be lucky if there's enough diesel on the island that can operate on and off throughout the month.

JT: For the people on the islands, will this make power more or less expensive for them?

TT: The project will provide all the necessities for the households. So it's not like before where they're limited. So now it's an open opportunity for them to use electricity spread over 24 hours and also an opportunity for them to consider energy conservation at the same time.

JT: When do you hope to have this all ready - the renewable energy in place?

TT: The tender is already out and we're looking at the end of June to close the tender, and after that give us probably a month before we award the contract. So we're looking at probably three months after the award, so probably in October.