Potential Bidders Explore Cook Island Solar Power Prospects

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

$20 million Renewable Energy project in Southern group open

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 18, 2016) – Eight interested bidders for the solar photovoltaic plants under the Cook Islands Renewable Energy Sector Project for the southern group were in the country last week to inspect the project sites.

The contingent included a local bidder while the rest were from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and United States.

Last month, the Renewable Energy department made an open international tender for the $20 million project which closes on March 18.

The eligible bidders will be bidding for the design, construction, installation, completion and commissioning of renewable energy facilities on Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro.

Director of Renewable Energy Tangi Tereapii said the bidders that made the islands trip were just eight of 60 genuine bidders who have registered their interest in pitching for the project.The bidders visited the sites at their own expense.

"Basically they physically wanted to see the site, the power station and the network and how they’re going to put their design based on the size of the location and other logistical information regarding the accommodation, workforce and the infrastructure in place for loading and unloading of cargo at the wharf," Tereapii said.

"We spent half a day on each island and overnight at Atiu. After visiting the sites, the bidders have a better idea of what to work on while preparing their bids."

Tereapii said they did not have any on site visits from bidders for the earlier northern group solar project because of the cost associated with travel to those islands.

The northern group was part of the first phase of the Cook Islands Solar Project, which was completed last year at a cost of $20 million funded by the New Zealand government in partnership with the European Union through the EU/NZ Energy Access Partnership.

The northern installations were handled by New Zealand-based company PowerSmart.

The southern group island project is being funded by the European Union, Japan, the Asia Development Bank and the Global Environment Fund.

Some work will be also be done on Aitutaki and Rarotonga, but the solar plants on the country’s most highly populated islands are unlikely to be completed until 2020, the government’s ambitious target date for having the country 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy.

The Cook Islands Solar Project aims to meet 95 per cent of the Cook Islands’ electricity demand, which will reduce diesel use by over 230,000 litres a year.

Meanwhile Tereapii said they would soon open the civil work tender which includes the construction of power houses on the southern group islands.

This tender will be available for local bidders only.

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