The United Arab Emirates (UAE) today announced the first five projects under the US$50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (the Fund) across Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The projects will significantly reduce energy costs in the region, as well as improve resilience to natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma.
Announced in January 2017, the Fund is a partnership between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC), which leads the initiative; the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which provides the grant financing; and Masdar, which is responsible for technical management and international, competitive project tendering. The projects represent the first funding cycle. The Fund aims to announce projects with up to 16 Caribbean countries over the next two to three years.
“We are honoured to open this new chapter in the growing UAE-Caribbean relationship,” said HE Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation. “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.”
The Fund is one of the largest grant renewable energy initiatives in the Caribbean region.
The projects – selected through months of joint due diligence between each country and Masdar – aim to enhance local expertise in the renewable energy sector and pave the way for further deployment, as well as immediately cut energy costs and improve energy security. The Caribbean region has strong potential for solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy solutions, which can redress its challenging electricity and transport costs, among the highest in the world.
His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD, reflected: “Renewable energy has been at the heart of UAE-Caribbean partnership, and ADFD is proud to continue investing in high-impact and innovative projects through the Fund. The renewable energy sector stimulates economic growth and employment, drives low-carbon innovation, and capitalises on environmentally-friendly resources – making it an integral part of both ADFD’s and the Caribbean countries’ visions for long-term growth.”
He added: “This Fund is another example of our government’s keenness to boost bilateral relations between the UAE and the Caribbean island countries. Together with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Masdar, ADFD is committed to facilitating sustainable and cutting-edge energy solutions in accordance with international best practices in the Caribbean. Over the years ADFD has shared its industry know-how and strategically provided tens of millions in renewable energy funding. I’m confident that our joint efforts will help these island nations achieve the socio-economic goals of their national agenda and elevate living standards there.”
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, commented: “The Caribbean islands have vast untapped renewable energy potential which can provide far-reaching benefits in terms of costs, resilience and, ultimately, to drive sustainable economic and social development. Masdar has tremendous experience in delivering impactful clean energy projects in remote and challenging locations, and this has been invaluable during the due diligence process to help us identify innovative, commercially-viable projects which respond to the needs of the local community. We are now looking forward to leading the implementation phase of these first five projects, in continued close collaboration with government bodies and other local stakeholders.”
The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund deepens cooperation between the UAE and Caribbean. Recent years have seen appointment of ambassadors, investment growth, and almost universal Caribbean membership in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the 179-country agency opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009. UAE-Caribbean engagement has also notably strengthened in preparation for the 2020 World Expo, to be held in Dubai, which is designed to showcase projects and plans to potential partners from across the globe.