A UAE initiative to build renewable energy projects in the Caribbean has opened doors to a greener future for people in a region that bears the brunt of climate change, according to a top Emirati diplomat.
Three clean energy projects launched in November 2018 under the initiative have started offering cleaner air and many other benefits to the Caribbean region, which is highly dependent on costly imported oil and other fossil fuels for transport and electricity, Bader Abdallah Al Matrooshi, the UAE Ambassador to Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti, who is also Representative of the UAE in the Association of Caribbean States, has said.
The projects in the Bahamas, Barbados, and St Vincent and the Grenadines will deliver 2.35 megawatts, MW, of solar and 637 kilowatt hours, kWh, of battery storage capacity, while displacing more than 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, the ambassador wrote in a recently published article in Trinidad Express, an English daily in Trinidad and Tobago.
The solar and battery storage plants under cycle number one of the US$50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, CREF, launched on the sidelines of the 2017 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, will save 895,000 litres of diesel per year, worth approximately US$1.1 million, Al Matrooshi said.
The three projects are also designed to withstand winds of up to 257 km per hour and other extreme weather, following a new requirement introduced in the UAE-CREF in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria that caused catastrophic winds and rain in the Caribbean, the envoy wrote.
This partnership celebrates the similarities shared by both the UAE and the Caribbean, such as the high potential for solar energy and the willingness to diversify their energy matrix. In addition, the initiative is also in line with the UAE’s principles of international cooperation and its commitment to sustainable development goals, especially to climate action and clean energy, Al Matrooshi noted.
The second cycle of the fund was announced in January 2018 during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, Assembly. It involves renewable energy projects in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia. Most of these will soon reach the procurement stage. In January this year, a project was also announced for Jamaica, which will be part of the third cycle along with Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname, Al Matrooshi said.