This project is implemented by the ADB and will assist the Cook Islands to fulfil its goal of delivering renewable energy to all its islands by 2020 and also reducing the Cook Islands’ dependence on fossil fuels, by building solar-powered plants on six of its islands, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union (EU), the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the Government of Japan through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Pacific Environment Community Fund or PEC) and the government of the Cook Islands.
An Inception meeting held in May 2015 resulted in the government signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asian Development Bank, finalising the scope for Phase 1. Construction of the solar farms, systems and distribution upgrades on Mitiaro, Mauke, Mangaia and Atiu. Rarotonga and Aitutaki, will be progressively be developed over 2015 for the implementation of Phase 2 alongside institutional capacity building and national policy work.
Each solar power plant built on the islands in the country’s south under this $24.28 million project will have a total installed power generation capacity of approximately 3 megawatts. It is anticipated that this project will lower annual use of diesel consumption for generating electricity by 1.09 million litres, in turn lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Nearly all households in the Cook Islands are connected to grid electricity. Of these households 5.5% have additional solar photovoltaic systems installed, and 1% use small diesel generators. The Cook Islands depends heavily on imported fuels and electricity costs there are among the highest in the Pacific.
Total funding is estimated at US$11.19 million (NZD$12.98 million) of a loan from ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources, a $7.26 million grant from the EU a product grant of Pacific Environment Community (PEC) USD3.9 million along with in-kind contribution of $5.83 million from the Cook Islands Government will fund the project. The project’s executing agency is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management. The implementing partners are the Renewable Energy Development Division of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Rarotonga Power Authority (Te Aponga Uira) and the Island governments.In April 2015, the GEF secretariat approved the project concept for inclusion a project preparation grant (PPG) of US$136,986. Additional grant funding of about US$4.12 million from GEF will increase the overall project investment to about US$28.40 million from the current US$24.28 million
This project compliments the solar power project implemented for the Northern Group of the Cook Islands and Rarotonga from the Government of New Zealand.