27 Oct 2014

Cook Islands opens its first solar plant

7:59 am on 27 October 2014

The head of a New Zealand energy company says the first solar plant opening in the Cook Islands this month will provide Rarotonga with five percent of its total energy needs.

Solar panels that power the lighthouse on Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

The general manager of Infratec, Peter Apperley, says the 3,000 solar panels, installed next to Rarotonga International Airport, were funded with 2.6 million US dollars from New Zealand's aid programme.

He says the solar panels will reduce the country's diesel usage by 400,000 litres a year and the community's reaction to the plant's opening has been very positive.

"They were very pleased with how it had gone and they were very happy. You know it was the first step in their dream to get to 100 per cent renewable by 2020."

Peter Apperley says the panels are built to withstand tropical cylones and will be maintained by skilled local technicans.