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Reliable, renewable power in the Cook Islands

In June 2019, Infratec joined the Prime Minister Henry Puna and other delegates in celebrating the official inauguration of the solar-mini grid on Mauke Island. The system was one of the four delivered as part of a Cook Islands Government project to design and deliver solar/battery mini grids and new underground network distribution systems on the islands of Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands.

The NZ$16 million project was funded by the Asian Development Bank and was part of the Cook Islands Renewable Energy Sector Project.

It has brought clean, affordable and reliable power to almost 1,500 people - or about 9% of the Cook Islands' population.

The systems have a combined installed capacity of 1.3 MWp of solar and 7.3MWh of battery storage and were designed to supply nearly all the electricity requirements of each island. Before the installation, the islands' electricity was supplied solely by diesel generators. Now the islands' residents can boast that about 95 per cent of grid electricity supplying each island is generated by solar panels.

That means annual savings of about 360,000 litres of diesel and 960 tonnes of CO2 emissions - and reliable 24-hour electricity for homes, businesses and community and medical facilities.

The new systems were designed with robust materials, so there is a much greater chance that power will stay on in cyclones and other extreme weather events, to maintain essential services such as hospitals, water facilities and emergency shelters.

Throughout the project, Infratec employed 40 local people - including more than 10 women - and sought to provide all of the local workers with knowledge and skills that would serve them and their communities after the project finished.