Masdar has kicked-off four new solar-power projects in the Pacific island countries of Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Financed under the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development’s US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund, the solar projects will collectively deliver 1.8 MW of clean energy and contribute to fuel savings worth US$2 million per year. Completion of the projects is expected by the second half of 2015.
The projects highlight Masdar’s role in the region, where the Abu Dhabi renewable energy company has already delivered the La'a Lahi “Big Sun” solar plant in Tonga, commissioned in November 2013, and Samoa’s first wind farm, commissioned in August 2014. Both of these projects were also financed through the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund.
“Access to clean energy is a pathway toward economic and social development,” said Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar. “For Pacific islands, which rely on imported fuel for electricity generation, renewable energy provides a viable alternative. In fact, wind and solar power projects deliver immediate savings, while underpinning long-term energy security.”
The US$50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund was launched in March 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayhan, UAE minister of foreign affairs, and administered by the ministry’s Directorate of Energy and Climate Change. To date, the fund has supported the delivery of 2.8 MW of renewable energy capacity, across six countries in the region. The benefits in being able to generate reliable and cost-competitive clean energy are significant for a region otherwise dependent on expensive imported diesel. The six projects collectively replace 1.5 million liters of imported diesel fuel and avoid 4,450 tons of CO2 each year.
The Pacific projects further expand the UAE's efforts to deploy renewable energy as a form of development assistance, which include:
- A $350 million fund committed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that has sponsored projects from Ecuador to Sierra Leone;
- A 15-MW solar PV power plant in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which accounts for 10 percent of the country’s energy capacity;
- A six-MW 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 PV systems.
(Photo: Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu. Photo Credit: Wikipedia)