UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund Projects Underway

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ABU DHABI, November 7th, 2018 (WAM) — The first three renewable energy projects under the US$50 million United Arab Emirates-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF) have broken ground in the Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) announced yesterday.

Fully financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the UAE-CREF is the largest renewable energy initiative of its kind in the Caribbean, representing a partnership between MOFAIC, ADFD and Masdar, the project manager and implementing lead.

The three projects, designed by Masdar with the respective national governments, are set to come online by Q1 2019. In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the projects are also being built to elevate storm standards and are located in less exposed areas.

In the Bahamas, a 900-kilowatt solar PV plant at the national stadium will also serve as a carport with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. As the country’s first large-scale solar energy project, it sets a regulatory precedent for new renewable energy plants to feed into the grid.

In Barbados, the project has two elements; a 350-kilowatt solar PV carport also with EV charging stations, and a 500-kilowatt ground-mounted PV plant. Both projects are being built in partnership with the Barbados Water Authority.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the project sets a strong precedent for using renewable energy to drive down energy costs on its outer islands. Under construction on Union Island, the 600-kilowatt solar PV plant is connected to a 500-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and is expected to supply all of the island’s daytime power needs. Union Island’s energy costs are currently almost 50 percent higher than those of the main island of Saint Vincent.

The combined output of the solar power plants will be 2.35 megawatts. Collectively, they will achieve diesel savings of more than 895,000 litres per year while displacing more than 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. This represents an annual diesel fuel saving of at least US$1.1 million.

One of the additional aims of the Fund is to promote local capacity building, including training and employment opportunities, with a view to promoting gender equality. The projects’ manager and lead engineer are both women, and women will represent at least a third (30 percent) of the staff employed by the EPC contractors responsible for the new renewable energy projects.

The UAE-CREF aims to deploy renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries over the next three years to help reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports, stimulate economic activity and enhance climate change resilience. Two projects in the first cycle of the fund – in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica – are currently being reconfigured in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane season. The second cycle of the Fund – involving renewable energy projects in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia – was announced at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the IRENA Assembly in January 2018. The next cycle of the Fund will be announced in January 2019. (WAM)