UAE's Masdar begins $50m PV projects in Pacific Islands

Underpinned by financing from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, UAE renewable energy company Masdar has commenced construction on four solar PV projects in the Pacific Islands region.

The $50 million, 1.8 MW project will see solar added to four Pacific Islands countries as part of the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund. Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are the chosen locations for the PV plants, which once completed will contribute to fuel savings of around $2 million per year.

These four projects represent Masdar’s second solar foray into the region after the Abu Dhabi-based company completed the La’a Lahi ‘Big Sun’ solar plant in Tonga in November 2013. Masdar also commissioned a wind farm in Samoa in August this year as part of the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund.

The fund was launched in March 2013 by the UAE’s minister of foreign affairs, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayhan, with the country’s Directorate of Energy and Climate Change administering the funds and project planning.

So far, 2.8 MW of clean energy has been installed across six countries in the Pacific, mitigating the effects of 1.5 million liters of diesel fuel, or 4,450 tons of C02 emissions a year.

“Access to clean energy is a pathway toward economic and social development,” said Masdar CEO Ahmad Belhoul. “For Pacific Islands, which rely on imported fuel for electricity generation, renewable energy provides a viable alternative. In fact, wind and solar power projects deliver immediate savings while underpinning long-term energy security.”

Beyond the Pacific region, the UAE has upped its commitment to assist the development of solar and renewable energy projects in a handful of other locations, including a $350 million collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to back projects in Sierra Leone and Ecuador, as well as the creation of a 15 MW solar PV plant in Mauritania and a large off-grid PG project in Afghanistan.