HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 587: 2 November 2011

A bio gas expert heading this way
Austrian biomass expert Dr Richard Zweiller is visiting Atiu and Rarotonga this week to assess the potential to produce biomass energy to meet the electricity needs of both islands.
Dr Zweiller is Co-Director of Gussing Energy Technology ands is here at the invitation of the Cook Islands Government. He is renowned worldwide for his role in establishing a biomass plant in Gussing, which has seen the Austrian town successfully convert to 100 percent renewable energy.
Utilising the town’s agricultural green waste (wood chips, leaves etc) to convert into energy, the town has been transformed from one with high unemployment, a falling population and a poor economic outlook to one that now boasts 50 new companies, generating jobs and an economy worth millions of Euros each year.
Diesel energy was costing Gussing close to 13 million Euros (NZ$20m) each year, but with the conversion to biomass that is now retained in the local economy and directed to the community’s other needs.
Considered the envy of many other European cities and towns, Gussing’s conversion began with the installation of a central heating system for the entire district (pop. 34,000), later diversifying to generate biogas used for cooking, bio fuel for transport and energy for electricity.
Dr Zweiller who is a chemical engineer has been visiting Atiu where three timber types - albisia, acacia and pine planted over 20 years ago - are now growing wild and threatening to destroy native species.
He is assessing the suitability of these trees for conversion to biomass energy so in future the island does not have to rely on diesel imports for its electricity and other forms of energy. He met with Islands Council members and addressed a well-attended public meeting yesterday in addition to visiting several forest sites.
Dr Zweiller will return to Rarotonga on Wednesday (2 November) to scope the possibility of biomass potential here and will provide an interim assessment report to stakeholders on Thursday before departing the Cook Islands on Friday evening.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said the Cook Islands could not rely on solar power alone as its only source of renewable energy and the Government was keen to explore as many other viable options as possible including wind power and biomass to support solar.
“The Cook Islands is very fortunate and grateful to have someone with Dr Zweiller’s credentials available to provide expert advice on biomass energy and we look forward to his interim assessment.”
- OPM Media Release

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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