Construction of the first solar energy plants for the southern group of the Cook Islands is set to begin in the second quarter of 2016.
The $US13 million project will initially involve the completion of solar plants on Mauke, Mitiaro, Mangaia and Atiu.
The Cook Islands News reports some work will be done on Aitutaki and Rarotonga, but the solar plants on the country's most populated islands are unlikely to be completed until 2020, the government's ambitious target date for the country being 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy.
Government engineers, working in conjunction with Asian Development Bank staff, are currently working on the design of the plants, which like those already built in the northern group, will provide island residents with 24-hour electricity.
Funding for the project is being provided by the Asian Development Bank, the European Union and the Japanese government.