Despite increasingly intense natural disasters and a high dependency on fossil fuels, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have demonstrated strong leadership by setting ambitious climate targets and national energy policies in pursuit of Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. On-ground capacity building, project facilitation and access to international finance are critical to support SIDS in their energy transitions.
Increasing the private sector’s participation as independent power producers and committing private capital towards renewable projects in SIDS was the focus of a week-long roundtable kicking off on Monday 28 August in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The capacity building roundtable for islands in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea was organised by IRENA through its SIDS Lighthouses Initiative.
At the opening, IRENA’s Programme Officer for SIDS, Ms Arieta Gonelevu Rakai said: “The Agency through the Initiative has prioritised support for improving enabling frameworks for the increased deployment of renewables and the development of bankable renewable energy projects that will attract more private sector participation in SIDS.” The roundtable showcased the status of national energy policies, concrete lessons from project development including success stories and best practices on strengthening private sector engagement in Cabo Verde, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, and the Seychelles.
On the design of bankable power purchase agreements (PPA), Dr Laurent Sam from the Seychelles confirmed, “we are in the process of negotiating the first power purchase agreement with an independent power producer, so the training is timely and will help us revoke the barriers and simplify the process from tender to starting electricity production.”
Mrs Nirkita Seeburn-Sobhun from Mauritius underlined the importance of investment. “We look forward to more knowledge sharing, best practices and lessons learned on the design of bankable PPAs and attracting private investment for renewable projects,” she added.
The roundtable builds on similar activities for the Pacific region and will also be replicated in the Caribbean region later this year. Each roundtable is being carefully planned by IRENA to improve and enhance the capabilities of power utilities and regulators, and to help SIDS design and negotiate bankable contracts.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) also provided an overview of their focus on green infrastructure investment and mobilising private capital in the energy, transport, water, urban and digital infrastructure sectors. Overall, the AIIB aims to disburse climate financing addressing mitigation, adaptation and resilience issues.
IRENA gave insights on the support available through the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, including energy access, geothermal development, grid assessment, project facilitation support and resource assessment.