The project, cofinanced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union, and the Government of Cook Islands, was approved in October 2014, with the Global Environment Facility approving it in 2016. The project is designed to lower the Cook Islands’ reliance on fossil fuels under a plan to build solar-powered plants on five of its islands.

“The project aims to increase energy security in the Cook Islands in an environmentally sustainable manner, while increasing the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix without negatively affecting the grid,” said ADB Pacific Department Energy Specialist Woo Yul Lee.

The additional assistance from GCF will provide funding for the installation of three units of a battery energy storage system with a preliminary capacity of 3 megawatts (MW) and 12 MWh, which will enable an additional 6 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity to be connected to the grid. The current project is expected to construct up to five solar PV power plants with batteries to store electricity from solar energy, rehabilitate the existing distribution network for Phase 1 subprojects, and provide institutional support to the government to develop the energy efficiency policy implementation plan.

The project should free up government funds for other needs while improving national energy security and sustainability, while assisting the Cook Islands fulfill its goal of delivering renewable energy to all its islands by 2020.

ADB has worked with the Cook Islands since 1976, approving 20 loans for $86.9 million, 3 grants for $12.3 million, and 36 technical assistance projects for $12.1 million.