UAE backs Caribbean green energy projects with $50m fund

Investment will accelerate electric car use and solar power in hurricane hit islands

A $50 million investment into green energy projects are helping reduce carbon emissions in Caribbean islands impacted by recent cyclones. Kamran Jebreili / AP 
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The UAE has made a $50 million (Dh183m) investment into clean energy projects in the Caribbean.

The plan is to build electric vehicle stations and solar power plants in the largest project of its kind in the region.

It is expected to help save $1.1m a year by cutting back diesel costs in the Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

"By funding renewable energy solutions globally, ADFD [Abu Dhabi Fund for Development] is enabling small island developing states to tackle their development challenges, meet their outlined priorities and optimise their natural resources," said Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of ADFD, the UAE's national entity for international development aid.

“We are confident these projects will continue to drive socio-economic benefits to local communities.”

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Three projects, which are all operational, will deliver 2.35 megawatts of solar and 637 kilowatt per hour of battery storage capacity, and displace more than 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

They will also save 895,000 litres of diesel per year, or $1.1m worth. The islands bear some of the highest power costs in the world due to their reliance on diesel.

All three projects are designed to withstand winds of up to 160 miles per hour under a new requirement instituted in the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Irma was the first category-five hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands, killing 134 people and causing more than $64 billion of damages in 2017.

Another category-five storm, hurricane Maria, struck in September 2017, proving more deadly and taking 3,057 lives. Wind speeds were recorded at 175 mph.

The Abu Dhabi fund intends to eventually install renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries in three cycles.

In the Bahamas, which hopes to generate 30 per cent of its power needs from renewable sources by 2030, a solar carport power plant for charging vehicles will displace 310,000 litres of diesel per year, saving the government $350,000 and offsetting 856 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The project is the largest solar plant to feed into the national grid.

"These landmark solar projects will pave the way for further investments in clean energy," said Masdar chief executive Mohamed Al Ramahi.

The projects are the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, the ADFD and Masdar.