UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF) announced a partnership to restore power to Barbuda after Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage to the island in September 2017 through a hybrid solar-diesel power station featuring hurricane-resistant battery storage, with partners including Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation, Transport, and Energy; Caricom Development Fund (CDF); and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZMFAT).
The agreement, part of UAE-CREF's second round of funding, covers the distribution of $5.7m (AED20.9m) from the UAE to support Antigua and Barbuda through a renewable energy initiative, and comes after UAE-CREF committed $3.5m (AED12.8m) during the first round of funding in 2017, and $700,000 (AED2.5m) of humanitarian funding in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is investing $1m through CDF, and the Government of New Zealand is donating $500,000 to help build the project, which will displace approximately 260,000 litres of diesel fuel per year, saving the Government of Antigua and Barbuda $320,000 and offsetting 690 tonnes of CO2 each year.Hurricane Irma, according to UAE state news agency, Wam, "destroyed 95% of the island on 6 September 2017, and forced all 1,800 residents to be evacuated to Antigua".
UAE-CREF will implement the project in partnership with the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), the latter of which will be responsible for project design and implementation.
Commenting on the partnership, the UAE's Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, Sultan Al Shamsi, said:"After the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in Barbuda, we are not only trying to restore electricity to the island we will work to rebuild it even better.
"Providing the island with a solar power plant will solve its energy crisis, provide clean, environmentally friendly energy, and improve the living conditions of islanders who will operate and maintain the new solar power plant to help reduce the impact of climate change."
Masdar's chief executive officer, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, said that given the damage recently caused by Hurricane Dorian in the northern Bahamas, UAE-CREF's hurricane-resistant solar projects were "vital" in the Caribbean.
He added: "It is a privilege to support our partners on this extremely important project that will rebuild Barbuda’s electricity system to give the island’s inhabitants access to a reliable and sustainable supply of electrical power."