High-Level Conference calls on IRENA to help SIDS achieve renewable ambitions


Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have called on the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for increased support and greater involvement in their efforts to accelerate renewable energy deployment, in a Declaration issued after a High-Level Ministerial Conference in Barbados (8 May).

At the conference, entitled “Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS – Challenges, Opportunities, Commitments” and hosted by the Government of Barbados in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, ministers discussed the sustainable policies and actions needed to advance sustainable development in their island states through sustainable energy access.

The resulting Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States recognised that SIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change as well as the current global energy, food, financial and economic crises, the increased incidence of natural disasters, and other environmental challenges.

The Declaration therefore highlights the importance of the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20-22 and called on the international community – including regional and international development banks, bilateral donors, the UN system and IRENA – and the private sector to provide financial support, as well as technological transfer and capacity building. Further acknowledging the role of IRENA in supporting SIDS in their efforts to accelerate renewable energy deployment, and calling for its greater involvement in supporting SIDS efforts, the Declaration encourages SIDS that have not joined IRENA to consider doing so.

“Many factors, including geographical isolation, limited natural resources and the high cost of imports – such as fossil fuels – have constrained the economic growth of many island states,” said IRENA Director-General Mr. Adnan Z. Amin. “IRENA stands ready to support countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, through readiness assessments, roadmaps, policy advice and capacity building.”

The conference also welcomed the publication of a new IRENA report, “Electricity Storage and Renewables for Island Power – A Guide for Decision Makers” developed at the request of IRENA island state members as part of the Agency’s broader work on renewable energy for islands. The report analyses the role that electricity storage can offer in meeting the challenges of variable electricity demand and supply, associated with renewable energy, and assesses smaller systems suitable for use with remote electricity systems and islands, with a special focus on developing countries.

The main findings of the report were presented during the Knowledge Fair segment of the Barbados Conference. Participants welcomed IRENA’s effort in providing an informative and practical report specifically aimed at islands-related issues and noted that the guidance and case studies contained in the report offers would help islands better understand the role of storage, new technical solutions and available choices. 

Additionally, a technology brief for electricity storage published jointly by IRENA and IEA-ETSAP was presented. The brief highlights the importance of energy storage in increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the global energy mix, as well as offering key synergies with grid interconnection and methods to smooth the variability of electricity generation and demand. It concludes that apart from pumped hydro many electricity storage technologies are still under development and need policy support for further commercial deployment.