NZ Funded Renewable Energy Projects To Open In Cooks

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Hopes to be 100% renewable by 2020

By Sarah Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 9, 2015) – Next week a parliamentary delegation from New Zealand and the Cook Islands will travel to Manihiki and Penryhn to formally open New Zealand funded renewable energy projects.

The $20.5 million Cook Islands Solar project is changing lives on other isolated northern islands with almost 100 per cent of their electricity supply expected to be generated using renewable energy.

The ground-breaking project ‘Huira Natura ke Tokerau’ shows what can be achieved through shared priorities and an ambition to improve the way of life for all Cook Islanders.

The project is part of an overall plan by the Government to see the Cook Islands 100 per cent powered by renewable energy by 2020.

"The systems are designed to provide at least 90% renewable electricity, and the project shows what can be achieved with great team work and a shared ambition to reach the government’s renewable energy targets", said former New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna Kempkers.

Two renewable energy systems have been built on Manihiki, one in Tukao and one in Tauhunu.

Penrhyn also received two new systems, one in Omoka and the other in Te Tautua.

The design and build of the solar-powered hybrid energy systems was completed by New Zealand company, PowerSmart.

One of their most well-known projects involved rolling out solar-power systems on each of the three atolls in Tokelau, with the country now deriving more than 90 per cent of its power from renewable energy.

In March, Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Aimee Jephson travelled to Pukapuka and Nassau with Prime Minister Henry Puna to attend the opening ceremonies for the completed solar power stations on those islands.

Rakahanga had already been opened and Palmerston was recently finished.

"The overwhelming impression after the visit to Pukapuka and Nassau is of inspirational and resilient people living in a place of incredible beauty and isolation," Jephson said.

"The challenges posed by distance and their unique environment are many, including access to most public services, cost of transport, and infrequency and unreliability of supplies."

Jephson said until recently, even the most basic of utilities and electricity was in short supply but now, as a result of the New Zealand Aid funded renewable energy programme, that is changing.

The ceremony in Manihiki and Penrhyn will be attended by Cook Islands Government parliamentarians including Prime Minister Henry Puna, and New Zealand delegates, Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, MP’s Winston Peters and David Shearer (Zealand Labour Party spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Energy and Resources.), and Pacific Economic Ambassador Shane Jones.

 

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