Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The United Arab Emirates and New Zealand has signed an arrangement for the development of a jointly funded 1 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the Solomon Islands.

Both countries share a common interest in the rapid deployment of renewable energy in developing countries, particularly in the Pacific region, and signed a renewable energy partnership arrangement in January 2014.

This 1MW power plant – 600kW funded by the United Arab Emirates and 400kW funded by the New Zealand Government through the New Zealand Aid Programme will be developed by Masdar.  It will bring clean, reliable power to the grid  in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.  The power plant  will meet 7 % of the Solomon Islands’ energy needs and reduce CO₂ emissions by over 1,200 tons while saving over approximately 450,000 litres of diesel annually.

His Excellency Jeremy Clarke-Watson, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the UAE, and His Excellency Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed the arrangement in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday last week.  

Ambassador Clarke-Watson praised the project as marking a great milestone in the ongoing cooperation between the UAE, New Zealand and the Solomon Islands.

“New Zealand is delighted to strengthen our cooperation with the UAE in the Pacific region through this initiative – providing clean renewable energy and reducing reliance on imported fuels to support sustainable development of the Solomon Islands,” he said.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “This project will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to the people of the Solomon Islands.  It will reduce their dependency on imported diesel, freeing up vital financial resources for other developmental projects.  The UAE is honoured to partner with New Zealand and support the government of the Solomon Islands in its efforts to accelerate economic development and to showcase the viability of this sustainable development model.”

Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, highlighted: “Energy security is crucial to sustainable development.  This is particularly true in the Pacific islands that face some of the highest fuel costs in the world.  Clean energy delivers tremendous benefits in terms of savings and development opportunities.  This agreement is the latest example of how the UAE is helping people and nations achieve energy security, while providing leadership in the deployment of clean energy across the globe.”

The solar PV plant is part of the United Arab Emirates Pacific Partnership Fund.  This $50m fund was established in 2013 to develop wind and solar projects to support economic and social development across 11 Pacific island nations with projects being delivered by Masdar and funding provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

Of the projects being delivered under the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund, six have already been delivered or are currently under construction.  The first completed project was the 512 kW solar PV installation in Tonga, while others include the first ever 550 kW wind farm for Samoa, three micro grid solar plants in Fiji that supply clean energy to some of the nation’s outer islands, and solar plants for Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

New Zealand has been driving a major push to boost the uptake of renewable energy in the Pacific, and this project is part of a wider $100 million investment in renewable energy across seven Pacific Island countries.