09 Jul Renewable energy targets in Rarotonga
With a customer base of around 5,000, Rarotonga makes up for 85% of the Cook Islands electricity demand.
In second place is Aitutaki which accounts for 10%. Mangaia, Atiu, Manihiki and Mauke account for perhaps 3 to 4 percent.
The electricity usage statistics reflect population density, industry factors and urbanisation. It also shows why Rarotonga is the key to achieving the renewable energy targets for the country of 100 percent by 2020.
While the Northern Group islands are now enjoying the benefit of renewable energy generation, their total energy usage remains insignificant in the scheme of the country’s total production.
The fact is the country’s renewable energy targets are not really going to be impacted until inroads are made on Rarotonga where the current energy supply is heavily dependent on diesel fossil fuel.
What renewable energy generation technologies offer is a way to avoid green house gases, reduce reliance on diesel generated electricity and reduce exposure to price volatility in global fuel markets. Other advantages include reduction in diesel consumption, creation of new jobs and improvement of our “green” image.
Over the years, we have learned much in relation to various potential energy sources for electricity generation that exist on Rarotonga. We have also learned that wind and solar PV projects can be deployed much faster than other generation technologies, and are therefore expected to grow significantly over the next few years, and are likely to contribute substantially to future power generation on Rarotonga
Since we started four years ago to pursue renewable energy generation more intensely, we now understand better the issues around intermittency, land availability, spinning reserves, power flows and utility-scale storage.
At high levels of intermittent RE penetration, the characteristics of the bulk power system can be significantly altered – we need to consider and accommodate these into the current planning and operation processes, which were not designed to incorporate large volumes of intermittent generation.
Renewable energy generation is highly desirable and clearly the direction of the future. We are working hard to make the full transformation in Rarotonga a reality by 2020.
(Published 9 July 2015)