Renewable Energy: A Win-Win Solution for Islands


On 2 December at COP21 in Paris, IRENA and Germany hosted an event to celebrate and strengthen win-win renewable solutions for small island developing states (SIDS).

Island states are on the front lines of climate change, threatened by sea level rise, tidal surges as storms increase in intensity, and decreased food security as the ocean becomes increasingly acidified. By adopting transformative renewable energy strategies, island states demonstrate the kind of leadership required to deal with the climate crisis.

Small island states are often heavily dependent on fossil fuels for transport and power, which are expensive and subject to massive price fluctuations. As a result these countries face a range of energy challenges including accessibility, security, affordability, and sustainability. Transitioning away from fossil fuels creates not only environmental benefits, but economic and other benefits as well.

The Paris event was focused on the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, which facilitates coordinated support for islands to transform their predominantly fossil-based power systems to renewable energy through partnerships with public, private, intergovernmental, and non-governmental stakeholder organizations.

Since its launch in September 2014, the Initiative has made great strides to meet its set objectives. It now has 29 island partners, 18 of which have developed roadmaps for renewable energy deployment, and other early successes include the mobilisation of $150 million in development funds and the deployment of 18 MW of renewable energy.

Its purpose was to reinforce the commitment of existing and potentially new partners to further accelerate the renewable energy transition on islands beyond COP 21. Speakers and panelists emphasized the important role of the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative in providing access to a suite of planning, capacity building, and finance tools and services through partnerships with public, private, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations.

These partnerships were seen as critical for promoting international cooperation in providing small island developing states with the necessary resources needed to accelerate their renewable energy transitions.

Finally, it was recognized that coordination and complementary support by stakeholders is needed to facilitate a holistic, integrated approach to renewable energy deployment. A win-win scenario indeed.

Read more about island success stories and the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative