NZ Company Wins Bid To Install Solar Power Plant In Southern Cook Islands

$14.6 million project awarded to Infratec after ‘rigorous’ bidding process

By Rashneel Kumar 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, August 24, 2016) – A New Zealand business has been awarded the multi-million dollar contract to install solar photovoltaic plants in the southern group islands under the Cook Islands Renewable Energy Sector Project.

After what was described as a “rigorous” bidding process, the Cook Islands government awarded the contract to Infratec, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NETcon Limited, an Alpine Energy company.

The South Canterbury-based company will be responsible for delivering a major component of the $20 million [US$14.6 million] project which will include designing, procurement, supplying and installing the solar component of the project on Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro.

The project, funded by the European Union, Japan, the Asia Development Bank and the Global Environment Fund, attracted seven bidders.

Infratec has a wide experience in the field having installed sustainable renewable energy systems around the world, in locations including Afghanistan and Tuvalu.

Infratec general manager Luke van Zeller said the project, which combines solar PV and battery storage, would provide the islands’ residents with cheaper electricity and a more reliable power supply. He said the system would reduce diesel consumption by about 360,000 litres annually and remove about 960 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year.

“About 95 per cent of grid electricity supplying each island will be generated by solar panels. Any excess power created when demand is low will be stored in batteries for later use,” van Zeller told the Stuff news website.

“Our solar generation and hybrid projects are designed to deliver lasting benefits for the whole community. This includes working alongside the community to build their knowledge and skill-base so they can operate and maintain the systems long-term.

“Our work with the local island communities is a crucial aspect to the success of the project.”

In welcoming the contract, the Cook Islands government said they wanted to refocus the nation’s energy generation.

Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Elizabeth Wright-Koteka said the government was “extremely pleased” to partner with NETcon to progress its policy objective of transforming the electricity needs of the country towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

“The signing of this contract is a significant milestone in this journey,”

She referred additional queries regarding the contract to Director of Renewable Energy Tangi Tereapii, who was on leave when CI News contacted his office on Monday.

Cook Islands News
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