The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), along with Masdar, today signed a partnership arrangement with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to accelerate the global deployment of renewable energy, particularly in Pacific Island countries. Potential project financing comes from a NZ$65 million (US$54 million) pledge by the New Zealand government and the US$50 million grant UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund, which is endowed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). The partnership was signed during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the Middle East’s largest gathering focused on sustainability.
The bilateral cooperation will identify projects that demonstrate the economic and technical viability of renewable energy in developing countries. Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, will implement projects on behalf of the UAE in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
For island nations in the Pacific – which rely primarily on diesel imports – the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that renewable energy has reached a tipping point and now outcompetes traditional sources of power generation on cost.
“This partnership allows New Zealand and the UAE to work even closer together over the next three years as we expand energy access throughout the Pacific and other regions,” said H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar. “Both foreign ministries have a strong record of deploying renewable energy as a tool for positive social, environmental and economic impact – which enables sustainable growth.”
New Zealand’s NZ$65 million commitment, announced at the Pacific Energy Summit hosted by New Zealand and the European Union in 2013 supports up to 18 projects in six Pacific nations over the next three years. Similarly, the UAE has committed $50 million in grant funding for Pacific Island countries through its UAE-Pacific Partnership fund.
“With estimates suggesting Pacific Island nations often spend more than 10 percent of GDP on petroleum imports, renewables not only reduces their dependence on imported fuels, but free up government budgets for social and physical infrastructure investments,” said Murray McCully, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The partnership arrangement follows a series of key development assistance deals announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, including new renewable energy projects in Ecuador, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Samoa, and Sierra Leone backed by a special ADFD-IRENA soft loan facility.
The partnership arrangement further expands 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 will supply 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).
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 18-25, is an annual platform to address the interconnected challenges impacting the widespread adoption of renewable energy and the acceleration of sustainable development. The platform includes a series of events: the fourth assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency; the seventh World Future Energy Summit; the second International Water Summit; the first EcoWASTE exhibition; and the sixth Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony.