Diesel-generated power used to be a way of life in Mitiaro and the other outer islands of the Cook Islands. That meant regular power interruptions and entire days when there was no power at all. But the development of a $43 million solar power grid, co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and key partners, has created clean, affordable, and sustainable power and transformed life, school, and doing business for many Cook Islanders.

Transcript

When I was a little girl, we didn’t actually have electricity on the island. Some years later, we ended up using diesel for our generators. And that was the start of electricity into the home as we know it.

My name is Cindy Anna Knowles Abraham. My husband and I have developed a business called Divine Retreat. And this business offers accommodation, food, and tours.

The electricity powering Cindy’s business comes from these new solar midi-grids, part of the $43 million Cook Islands Renewable Energy Project, co-financed by ADB, the European Union, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility.

Cindy Abraham
Business Owner

In the days of the diesel operation, we used to have a lot of failures. We never had 24-hour power then, it would run for three days a week, five days a week, and once we’ve gone to solar energy, we’ve had 24/7 electricity which has just been absolutely brilliant. We’re able to install electric fans, we’ve got refrigerators, we’ve got electric stoves which we’d never had in the past. And you’re able to have a lot more lights throughout your building for everyone’s comfort.

The solar power project is helping the country’s outer islands embrace renewable energy, which is cheaper, more reliable, and better for the environment.

Mark Brown
Prime Minister

Well, energy is always an import aspect of development. And particularly for our remote communities in our outer islands, energy has always been a challenge. So for us, the sensible solution has been to use renewable energy, in particular, solar energy, to meet those energy demands.

Lesley Katoa
CEO, Te Aponga Uira

Te Aponga Uira acknowledges the invaluable support provided by the ADB through the Cook Islands Government. This support has enabled Te Aponga Uira to access financing to support key RE projects through the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility as well as other sources. We look forward to continued support tailored to the needs of the Cook Islands to ensure the success of achieving our renewable energy goals.

The arrival of solar power on the island has also improved life for students and teachers at Mitiaro school.

Christopher Story
Principal, Mitiaro School

All our electricity is run by renewable energy. And ever since it has come on, I feel that the school has benefitted a lot. We do not have regular power outages.

Solar power has helped baker Rangi Kimiora extend his baking hours which has been good for business.

Rangi Kimiora
Baker

Being a baker on the island, I believe solar has so many advantages for me especially baking 24/7 as well as at midnight and in morning, because I believe that before that if we were on diesel power, I don’t think I could be baking at midnight or early morning. So, now solar has allowed me to do that for a longer term as well.

By powering the outer islands and adding battery storage systems in the main island of Rarotonga to support grid stability, the project is expected to boost business growth across the Cook Islands.

Mark Brown
Prime Minister

Putting in place a renewable energy program for the outer islands is something that was going to be critical if we wanted to lift the standard of living in the outer islands. And if we wanted to engage these communities which are quite a far distance from the major economic hub in our country, it was important that we did provide them with good, reliable energy at an affordable price that would enable them to be part of our economic development.

SHARE THIS PAGE