Entura helps Cook Islands reach renewable energy milestone

May 15, 2018

Specialist power and water consulting firm 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, to the north-east 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% of the populations’ energy needs.

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 Friday. Mitiaro can now switch off its diesel generators and run entirely on reliable solar and battery power thanks to its new hybrid renewable power system.

Hybrid energy projects on another three southern islands – Atiu, Mangaia and Mauke – will be completed over coming months, followed by a range of other initiatives on a further two islands, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, which have higher power demands. Power systems there 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 greater energy security and reduce reliance on costly, emissions-intensive diesel fuel.

“Energy security and self-sufficiency are essential for remote islands such as 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 as well as reducing carbon and other emissions.”

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.

As well, Entura has delivered strategic advice to assist with energy policy development for the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands Renewable Energy Chart Implementation Plan encapsulates this strategy.

“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,” said Tammy Chu.

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% renewable energy by 2020.

“The commitment to renewable energy is a fundamental prerequisite to sustainable development,” said Tangi Tereapii, Director of Renewable Energy Development Division at the Cook Islands Government.

“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.”

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 alongside government allocation for dedicated resource and land compensation.