The United Arab Emirates today signed partnerships with five Pacific island countries to deploy renewable energy projects, financed from the US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund.
The solar and wind projects – in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – represent one of the largest capital investments in the region’s clean energy sector. With grant financing from Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), project completion is expected in late 2014.
All five projects will be co-designed and implemented by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, in cooperation with each nation’s government. The La'a Lahi 'Big Sun' solar plant in Tonga, commissioned in November 2013, was the first project to receive funding from the UAE.
During a signing ceremony held during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar, said: “Access to clean energy is a critical component of economic and social development. This is especially true in the Pacific, as island nations face some of the highest fuel costs in the world and clean energy delivers a tremendous impact in terms of savings and growth potential.”
The projects are estimated to save more than 1.2 million liters of diesel fuel annually and mitigate 3,030 tonnes of CO2 per year. They are also designed to demonstrate the viability of renewable energy in remote locations, where the International Renewable Energy Agency reports that renewable energy now outcompetes traditional diesel imports on cost.
“Developing countries have the challenge of accelerating economic growth and social opportunities, while facing constraints on natural resources,” said His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. “The deployment of renewable energy is a unique way forward — decoupling energy access and equity from environmental impacts for the first time. We are honored to support these projects and to showcase the viability of this sustainable development model.”
The US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund was launched in March 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the UAE’s minister of foreign affairs, and is administered by the ministry’s Directorate of Energy and Climate Change. The fund covers project feasibility studies, engineering design, plant equipment supplies and installation, construction and operation and maintenance training.
The Pacific projects further expand the UAE's efforts to deploy renewable energy as a form of development assistance. Other notable Masdar projects include:
• A15-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which accounts for 10 percent of the country’s energy capacity;
• A six-megawatt wind farm in the Republic of Seychelles that powers more than 2,100 homes (funded by ADFD);
• A project in Afghanistan that supplies 600 residences with off-grid solar photovoltaic systems; and
• A 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic power plant on the island of Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga (funded by ADFD).