Three solar power projects in the Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have been inaugurated under the $50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF).
The fund, the largest renewable energy initiative of its kind in the region, is a partnership between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar).
In total, the three projects, which broke ground in November, will deliver 2.35MW of solar and 637kWh of battery storage capacity, while displacing more than 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Combined, they will also achieve diesel savings of more than 895,000 litres per year, worth about $1.1 million.
The Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines face some of the highest power costs in the world, due to their reliance on diesel. All three projects are designed to withstand up to 160 mile per hour winds and extreme weather in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The projects will be inaugurated by Bader Almatrooshi, UAE Ambassador to Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica and Representative to the Association of Caribbean States.
Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, ADFD director-general, said: "We are confident that these projects will continue to drive socio-economic benefits to local communities in the Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines."
The three projects all represent significant steps forward in realising the three countries’ renewable energy ambitions.
In the Bahamas which hopes to generate 30 percent of its power needs from renewable sources by 2030, the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium 925kW Solar PV Carport Power Plant 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-ever solar plant to feed into the national grid and sets a critical regulatory precedent for future private development.
In Barbados, the government aims to generate 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. As part of this target, the Bridgetown 350kW Solar PV Carport Power Plant and Bow Manston 500kW Solar PV Power Plant in Barbados are expected to save $381,000 per year by displacing 265,000 litres of diesel fuel and 975 tonnes of carbon annually.
In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the project – with 600kW of solar PV and a 637 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery – is able to supply 100 percent of Union Island’s daytime power requirements. The plant alone also meets over 30 percent of Union Island’s energy needs and will displace 320,000 litres of diesel fuel per year, saving the island $368,000 and offsetting 825 tonnes of carbon annually.
Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said: "These landmark solar projects will pave the way for further investments in clean energy across the countries."
The UAE-CREF was launched in 2017 and intends to deploy renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries in three cycles to reduce energy costs, increase energy access, and enhance climate resilience.
UAE foreign aid for renewable energy projects now totals almost $1 billion since 2013, supporting more than 40 countries.