Entura helping the Cook Islands on their renewable energy journey

June 23, 2015

Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura is helping the Cook Islands reduce reliance on diesel fuel, as part of the country’s goal to use renewable energy on all islands by 2020.

The Cook Islands is a group of 15 small islands in the Pacific, to the north-east of New Zealand.

Entura will develop preliminary designs for remote area power systems in six islands, and assist the Cook Islands Government in their implementation.

“Energy security and self-sufficiency are essential for remote islands such as Rarotonga, the most populous of the Cook Islands,” said Entura’s Managing Director, Tammy Chu.

“Diesel fuel remains the single largest expense to generate power in these remote locations, so using renewable energy makes good economic sense.”

Climate change poses a particular risk to the Cook Islands due to sea level rise, extreme rainfall events, storm surges, strong winds and extreme high air temperatures. These changes are expected to adversely affect marine and terrestrial environments, giving rise to issues for food security, water resources and biodiversity.

“The commitment to renewable energy is a fundamental prerequisite to sustainable development,” said Richard Neves, Financial Secretary from the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic 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.”

Entura will assess the technical, environmental, social and economic viability of a transition from diesel to renewables, and make recommendations to the government of the Cook Islands and the Asia Development Bank on the optimum solutions to achieve the project objectives.

In the first phase of the project, the islands of Atiu, Mitiaro, Mangaia and Mauke will be converted from diesel power supply to a solar-battery hybrid system that will supply close to 100% of their energy needs, with diesel as a backup.

The second phase will focus on the islands of Aitutaki and Rarotonga, which have higher power demands. Power systems there will be upgraded to increase levels of renewable energy penetration, and integrate grid stabilisation technology to pave the way for installation of further generation.

As well, Entura will deliver strategic advice to assist with energy policy development for the Cook Islands, and develop practical training for local operations and maintenance workers to enhance their ability to manage the day-to-day operation of renewable energy systems both now and into the future. Institutional strengthening is a key output of the project.

The three-year project is expected to be completed in late 2018.

Approved funding for the project includes an ADB loan of NZD12.98 million, an EU Grant of €5.3 million, committed funding from the Global Environment Facility of USD4.1 million, a product grant of Pacific Environment Community (PEC) USD3.9 million alongside government allocation for dedicated resource and land compensation.