We're all in this together - the Pacific and renewable energy technology

15th Mar 2013

Rarotonga is moving in the direction of renewable energy, with help from an Australian solar company.

Located northeast of New Zealand, Rarotonga is part of the Cook Islands and has a population of 13,095.

Rarotonga has committed to a goal of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2015, and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020, as to become an energy independent nation and help fight against climate change, which low-lying nations are particularly vulnerable to with rising sea levels, as well as cyclones and hurricanes.

As well as this, The Cook Islands rely heavily on imported diesel for their electricity, as well as petroleum for their transport – but fluctuations in oil prices can make it hard to afford.

The government has said that while a target of 100 per cent renewable energy is an ambitious one, they believe it is achievable especially with their smaller population and the technologies that are available.

The conversion to renewable energy is happening in the northern islands which are more isolated with small populations and where demand and access to fuel supply is unreliable and difficult, as well as in Rarotonga. 

According to Ecogeneration, Rarotonga's Muri Beach Resort has recently installed an advanced hybrid photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system that allows the resort energy independence – with technology provided by SMA Australia and designed by Sunshine Solar Solutions.

As well as this, Ecogeneration states that plans are underway for the installation of off-grid solar systems in other locations, with Rakahanga planning to implement an 80 kW system, with Pukakpuka preparing for a 205 kW installation.

"Now is the time to shape our nation into something our children will be proud to inherit. There is no doubt the way of the future is in the use of renewable energy. Some technologies are proven and perfected for the use of renewable resources and others are just being discovered," said prime minister and minister of renewable energy Henry Puna, in 2011 during the earlier stages of the plan's development.

"The Cook Islands, as part of its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its carbon emission, will move down the path of renewable energy, not partially, but totally."

SMA Australia has also helped Tokelau – the world's first 100 per cent solar-powered nation – utilise renewable energy.

Japan and New Zealand are two other countries who supporting the development of renewable energy amongst pacific nations.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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