Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The United Arab Emirates and New Zealand today inaugurated a solar power plant in Solomon Islands, developed and deployed by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. The project was deployed as part of the US $50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund (UAE-PPF) financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the development arm of the UAE government.
The 1-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) plant will meet seven per cent of the country’s electricity needs and represents an innovative approach to development assistance, merging strong government-to-government partnership with commercial innovation.
Development of the PV facility is the result of collaboration between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZMFAT), with Masdar as the executing partner.
Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand, underscored that the project will deliver real benefits for the people of Honiara and highlights the emerging cooperation between the UAE and New Zealand in the Pacific.
“We are very pleased to have partnered with the UAE to support the development of this solar plant. The project arose out of the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland and highlights what can be achieved when donors work together with a common aim,” he said.
HE Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, said: “The UAE’s cooperation with New Zealand, realised through a Masdar-deployed project, is supporting Solomon Islands to tap into its renewable energy potential. Today’s inauguration is a testament to how strong public-private partnerships can provide solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to energy security, to socio-economic development.”
For his part, His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), said: “Renewable energy has become a key enabler of economic and social development across developing countries. The project inaugurated today in the Solomon Islands will serve as a model for promoting widespread access to clean energy.”
Al Suwaidi added: “Over the years, ADFD has been active in supporting renewable energy projects across developing countries as well as promoting clean energy as an effective and affordable tool for meeting their energy needs. I am confident that such efforts will eventually promote sustainable development across the developing world.”
Previously, 90 per cent of the electricity produced in the country came from diesel generators located in the city of Honiara on Guadalcanal, one of the islands that make up Solomon Islands. The 1 MW solar plant will help save more than 454,469 litres of diesel fuel every year at a value of US$577,176, while offsetting a total of 1,254 tons of CO2 emissions.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, the Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “I am proud of Masdar’s role in supporting Solomon Islands to seize the opportunities of renewable energy to deliver energy access, bolster energy security and drive sustainable development. Pacific island nations are on the frontlines of climate change and face significant energy security challenges. By delivering customised solutions tailored to the unique needs of the Solomon Islands – and with the support of the UAE and New Zealand governments – Masdar is furthering the global goal of ensuring sustainable energy for all.”
The UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund was launched in response to the identification of renewable energy as a key growth enabler at the January 2012 Pacific Leaders’ Meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Masdar was appointed to design and implement the projects by working closely with partners in the UAE and the host nation.
The agreement between the UAE and New Zealand to develop the solar power project in Solomon Islands was signed in October 2015. The agreement built on earlier cooperation in renewable energy across the Pacific including Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
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. New Zealand and the European Union will co-host a Pacific Energy Conference in Auckland, 7 June 2016. The Conference will confirm continued commitments for sustainable energy in the Pacific region and review access to electricity, private sector investment, innovation and climate change.
The inauguration in Solomon Islands is the first of five planned inaugurations of Masdar-developed projects, marking the completion of ‘Cycle 2’ of the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund. In ‘Cycle 1’, completed in November 2015, the fund enabled the generation of a total of 2.8MW of renewable energy capacity, replacing a total of 1.5 million litres of imported diesel fuel. The combined output of the projects has saved US$2 million per year and also displaced 4,157 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.