The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund has announced the start of construction for a hurricane-resistant clean energy plant in Antigua and Barbuda to help the twin-island nation recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The US$50 million Fund, the largest renewable energy investment of its type in the region, is the result of a partnership between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar).
The Green Barbuda project is being developed with joint funding from the UAE and New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda and the CARICOM Development Fund, and implemented by Masdar. Site preparation, network impact assessment, and geotechnical studies have been completed for the project, which will support Antigua and Barbuda's efforts to recover sustainably and help create new jobs.
Sultan Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs at MoFAIC, remarked, "Since its founding as a nation, the UAE has considered assistance to underserved areas a critical component of its foreign assistance. Through the signing of these EPC agreements, the UAE is facilitating efforts to achieving the UAE’s foreign assistance policy 2021 to promote global peace and prosperity. Today, this achievement will ensure building a more sustainable future and meet the needs of residents of Antigua and Barbuda. We regard with enthusiasm the impact that such projects will have on achieving the SDGs and the livelihoods of those who are most vulnerable, including women and youth."
Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD, said, "This investment is not only transforms the lives of people of Antigua and Barbuda through income-generating activities and by providing a clean, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable source of power, it supports ADFD’s continued mission to invest in renewable energy projects to drive sustainable economic growth in developing countries and unlock their potential. This initiative has a positive impact not only on these developing nations, but also on the UAE’s economic diversification, and it is an opportunity to deploy Emirati expertise internationally. As the world faces economic recession from the impact of coronavirus, investments such as this help pave the way for recovery domestically and in partner countries."
Sir Robin Yearwood, Minister with Responsibility for the Energy Portfolio in Antigua and Barbuda, said, "This project will provide an opportunity for developing Barbuda’s extensive solar energy resource in a manner that supports sustainable socio-economic development. The Green Barbuda project has demonstrated the commitment of the Government and the people of the United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, and New Zealand, as well as the CDF in advancing climate resilient energy initiatives. This innovative project provides a model for other islands and communities as they tackle in an integrated manner the need to develop their renewable energy resources in the context of the global climate crisis."
Masdar is leading the design and implementation of the project, which, when completed, will contribute to Antigua and Barbuda's goal of producing 15 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. The project will include the construction of an 800 kW diesel power plant and a 720 kWh hybrid solar power plant, as well as an 863 kWh battery system to store excess electricity generated.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: "Delivering on this complex engineering project will provide a welcome boost to Antigua and Barbuda’s economy in these challenging times and help the nation realize its sustainable development goals. The Green Barbuda project will demonstrate the role renewable energy plays in accelerating economic growth and bringing tangible benefits to local communities, such as lowering their reliance on expensive fossil fuels, creating jobs and building skills and capacity. Above all, it highlights the commitment of multiple nations to support a common objective – providing humanitarian relief to those less fortunate and creating a better world for all."
The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund aims to establish projects in 16 Caribbean countries within three funding cycles to help reduce energy costs, save more, and enhance their resilience to climate conditions. Clean energy projects were inaugurated in the Bahamas, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March 2019.