Renewable energy projects in developing nations from Cuba to Nepal are set to go ahead thanks to hundreds of millions of dirhams in UAE funding.

At the 10th annual assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi, $105 million (Dh385m) in funding was announced for eight schemes in the developing world.

Among the projects to be backed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development include a 10MW solar power station in St Lucia, which will receive a loan of $15m.

In the Maldives, a waste-to-energy plant project in the city of Addu will receive a loan of $14m, while in Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, a solar project that it is predicted will benefit more than 32,000 people will be backed with a $20m loan.

“The environment is breathing a sigh of relief as a result of this project,” said Luke Browne, minister of health, wellness and environment in the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, after it was announced that a loan of $10m would be provided for a 7MW solar project in his country.

“The cost of electricity generation in the Grenadines will plummet. All of our country is ecstatic about the prospects for a far more resilient energy system and sustainable development.

“We are currently heavily dependent on diesel … In the islands of the Grenadines a centralised diesel power system is operated. This set-up depends on international supply chains and is vulnerable to disruption by extreme weather events which, as we know, are becoming more numerous and intense in this age of climate change.”

The latest tranche of funding, the seventh announced as part of the partnership between Irena and ADFD, is the largest ever.

Under the partnership, 32 projects worth around 200MW of new renewable energy capacity have been given the green light, with cumulative funding to date reaching $350m.

The low-cost ‘soft’ loans are necessary as developing nations often struggle to raise the initial capital needed for renewable energy projects. They cover up to 50 per cent of total project costs.

Also being supported is a solar and wind plant in Antigua and Barbuda, which will receive an ADFD investment of $15m. The project is expected to benefit 5,500 households and allows for large reductions in the import of fossil fuels.

In Nepal, a project will receive a loan of $10m to support 20 ‘biogas digesters’ which convert organic waste into useful energy and offset the use of fossil fuels by replacing it with renewable natural gas.

The other projects are being backed are in Chad and Burkina Faso.

“ADFD-funded projects over the seven cycles of the facility have led to the widespread adoption of scalable, clean, and sustainable energy alternatives in 26 countries,” said Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of ADFD.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms the UAE’s and ADFD’s leading efforts to combat the effects of climate change by stimulating robust development across the global renewable energy sector. The fund’s commitment to this priority has enhanced long-term growth prospects and yielded socio-economic benefits for millions of lives in line with the national objectives of the beneficiary countries.”

The funding would help the eight countries and also “further global ambitions to build a sustainable future,” Francesco La Camera, Director-General of Irena, said.

“Overcoming investment needs for energy transformation infrastructure is one of the most notable barriers to the achievement of national goals,” Mr La Camera said.

“Therefore, the provision of capital to support the adoption of renewable energy is key to low-carbon sustainable economic development and plays a central role in bringing about positive social outcomes.” (The National)