Masdar’s Pacific solar projects to see the light of day in 2016

Construction has begun on solar-power facilities in Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanautu, all of which rely on imported fuel or electricity generation.

ABU DHABI // Masdar yesterday announced the start of construction of four solar power projects in the Pacific island nations of Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has provided Dh184 million for the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund and the projects should be completed by 2016.

“For Pacific islands, which rely on imported fuel for electricity generation, renewable energy provides a viable alternative,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Masdar.

“Wind and solar power projects deliver immediate savings, while underpinning security.”

The solar projects will collectively provide 1.8 megawatts of clean energy and contribute to fuel savings worth $2m per year in countries where energy is a common concern.

To date, the fund has supported the creation of 2.8 megawatts of renewable energy capacity across six countries in the region.

The projects are preceded by the La’a Lahi (Big Sun) solar plant in Tonga and Samoa’s first wind farm, both financed and developed from the UAE.

“In a country like Samoa you have high winds and cyclones. The country, the government and people recognise that, and we needed to provide them with a means of harbouring energy. We gave them a way that they couldn’t dream of,” said Khaled Ballaith, director of Masdar special projects.

Mr Ballaith said that during the process of building the infrastructure, project leaders will train members of the community to manage the facilities.

“We don’t just leave these countries. Our hands and ears are always open to any help that they need,” said Mr Ballaith.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, chair of the Pacific Fund committee, said these projects mean more than just providing energy; they are a contribution to the development of those societies and a way of enhancing relations with those countries.

“One of the main goals is continuing the development of these islands, to make sure that the projects will continue to be maintained by the locals,” he said.

“In terms of the government, we want to enhance our political relations with those countries by bringing practical government development and investment.”

He said that by dealing with various challenges, the UAE is enhancing its expertise and adding lustre to its reputation.

The next set of countries to receive support for renewables will be announced in the first half of next year.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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