The United Arab Emirates (UAE) today announced a landmark new US$50 million grant fund for renewable energy projects in Caribbean island countries. Launched by HE Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund represents one of the largest-ever single investments in the region’s clean energy sector, as well as a significant deepening of bilateral relationships between the UAE and Caribbean countries.
Grant funding is provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs managing the initiative and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, leading implementation.
The announcement, which brings UAE development assistance for renewable energy to almost $1 billion since 2013, was made on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, as part of the annual General Assembly meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“We are honoured to open this new chapter in the growing relationship with Caribbean countries,” said Minister Al Hashimy. “The two oceans between us are not the barrier they once were, and we are bringing fresh eyes and enthusiasm to each other’s markets and aspirations. We’re especially pleased to join forces under the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, which can simultaneously drive achievement of the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), reflected: “The renewable energy sector stimulates economic growth and employment, it underscores innovation and it capitalises on resources – all leading pillars in improving day-to-day living standards. ADFD’s steady and unwavering vision is to underpin developing countries in achieving their goals by forging new partnerships and funding multiple key sectors; notably, the renewable energy sector – the main catalyst for sustainable long-term growth.
He added: “In the Caribbean island countries, securing a stable and efficient supply of energy is a pivotal policy of each nation’s growth strategy. ADFD is proud to have partnered with Masdar and share its expertise to support the Caribbean nations as they unlock their underutilised wind and solar potential to drive energy security, job creation and socio-economic development.”
Mohamed Al Ramahi, Masdar CEO, added: “Renewable energy is an extremely competitive option for communities in the Caribbean, where there is tremendous natural potential a number of technologies. Caribbean islands typically face high costs for power generation, so unlocking this potential offers opportunities for both savings and growth, providing a powerful catalyst for sustainable social and economic development. Masdar is proud to be a trusted partner for this important project, which will draw on our deep experience deploying solutions for island communities.”
The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund represents a new pillar of expanding cooperation and exchange between the UAE and Caribbean. A number of Caribbean countries have appointed ambassadors to the UAE in the last year to develop trade and investment links, as well as prepare for the 2020 World Expo in Dubai. For the first time in the Expo’s history, each country will be enabled to host its own pavilion, allowing Caribbean participants to showcase projects and plans to potential partners from across the globe.
The new fund will seek to conclude project agreements with several countries per year. Designed for flexibility, it can support renewable energy projects as both as a minority or full financier, as well as engage with both the public and private sectors. With Masdar as the technical lead, all sources of renewable energy can be considered, including solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy.
“The Caribbean offers one of the most compelling business cases for renewable energy in the world, and a public finance push can be a critical factor in driving action,” said Ali Al Shafar, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to IRENA. “Renewable energy has been a powerful relationship-builder for the UAE, and we look forward to partnering with Caribbean countries on this common interest that can in turn lead to new opportunities.”
UAE development assistance for renewable energy is now approaching $1 billion since 2013. Recent projects, implemented by Masdar, include eight solar plants in rural Mauritania, which power about 39,000 homes and save 27,850 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, and the provision of 6.5 megawatts (MW) of capacity across 11 Pacific Islands, enabling the saving of 3.2 million litres of diesel fuel annually.
On Sunday Abu Dhabi Fund for Development -ADFD- in collaboration with Irena have announced during the Seventh Session of the IRENA Assembly, funding four renewable energy projects within the fourth funding cycle. Projects produces about 32 megawatts of renewable energy, worth AED 163.4 million ($ 44.5 million) in four countries, namely, the Seychelles Islands Marshal, Niger and the Solomon Islands.