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Street Lighting to Kirimati Island

07 March 2018

Celebration as New Zealand company returns street lighting to Kiritimati Island

A New Zealand renewable energy company has ended 40 years of darkness on the streets of a remote north Pacific island.

The last street light was switched off on Kiritimati Island in 1978 - and the light has been returned by Infratec, part of the South Canterbury Alpine Energy Group.

A total of 66 lights were installed as part of the Kirimati Renewable Energy Project, which is being delivered by Infratec.

The EU Development Fund and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded project includes the building of two new power stations, 30km of high voltage network and a 150kW solar photovoltaic plant.

Infratec has installed sustainable renewable energy systems around the world from Afghanistan to Tuvalu and New Zealand. The Kiritimati Island project commenced in August 2016 and is expected to be completed in April 2018.

Infratec project manager Paul Bowler says that Kirimati has four main population centres, with each operating on their own ageing generator.

“This project will centralise the power system for Kirimati, providing a more reliable, efficient and safe electricity supply for the island. The 150kW solar system will reduce the island’s dependence on expensive diesel.”

“The street lights are a critical piece of infrastructure for the island. It is much safer for local people to walk and drive at nighttime. The first night the lights were on people were eating dinner outside under the lights. Wherever we go, people are saying thank you.”

Infratec’s approach reduces reliance and dependency on external short-term “expat” resources and empowers the islands to manage their power supply.

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

Infratec has engaged Independent Lines Services from Christchurch to undertake much of the 30km HV construction.

Kiritimati Island, in Kiribati’s Line Islands group, is the world’s largest coral atoll and the largest of the 33 islands in the Republic of Kiribati.

The island is approximately 3,300 km east of Kiribati’s capital, Tarawa.