Private Sector Partnerships Critical for Sustainable Energy Transition in Small Island Developing States

8 July, 2019

NEW YORK – Affordable and clean energy is critical for economic and social development including for the world’s small island developing States (SIDS). Having access to sustainable energy and the need to create long-lasting partnerships is a high priority for this group of countries. The SAMOA Pathway, the dedicated programme of action for SIDS, recognizes the call for sustainable energy as one of the top priorities for small islands.

Since the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in 2014, many SIDS have made moderate progress in renewable energy uptake through national level integrated energy plans. The SIDS Lighthouses initiative tracks data on renewable energy for 36 SIDS partners and the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources in the power sector has increased. This data indicates that SIDS installed 280 MW of solar PV and 59 MW of wind between 2014 and 2017. The total installed capacity of renewable energy sources in the power sector (bioenergy, geothermal, solar, wind, and hydropower) increased form 2409 MW in 2014 to 2775 MW in 2017.

However most of the renewable energy potential in SIDS remains untapped. In 2017, 17.6% of the electricity in SIDS came from renewable sources; particularly from hydropower. SIDS have a large potential to utilise renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal as well as the potential to adopt new energy strategies and technologies through private sector partnerships.

Private sector companies are already working together with SIDS on the renewable energy transition.  For example, the Austrian company, Swimsol, has partnered with the Maldives to create an offshore solar solution for islands with limited space on land. The technology makes it possible to place solar panels on the unlimited ocean space becoming the world’s first floating solar system. By doing this Swimsol is able to implement an innovative and affordable clean energy solution tailor made for island environments. This highlights the importance of building strong partnerships with SIDS.

Sunergise is another company which is working with Pacific Island countries on transitioning to solar energy. Sunergise took part in the 2016 P3A conference which was a part of the SIDS Global Business Network with the company showcasing its operations in Pacific SIDS. In Vanuatu, Sunergise has worked with the government to install solar a PV Grid Connect system at the Parliament House saving up to 324,573 litres of diesel every year and with direct savings of USD$ 378,085 on reduced diesel reliance. Meanwhile, in the Solomon Islands, Sunergise has installed a ground mounted solar array on the island of Taro while in the Marshall Islands, Sunergise announced in August 2016 the launch of an innovative solar power generation plant designed to collect both rainwater and solar energy in Majuro. The solar project in the Marshall Islands was financed under the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, in a program managed by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.

The examples above illustrate that while SIDS do face challenges including that of smaller economies of scale, partnerships with the private sector can and do work. Further efforts will be needed by SIDS to address policy and regulatory hurdles and strengthening the institutional environment to attract private sector investment. Private sector partnerships will be critical in order to accelerate progress in achieving SDG 7 in SIDS as well as the goals of the SAMOA Pathway to implement renewable energy, energy-efficient, and environmentally sound technologies.

Featured Photo by Pexels, Created on Canva
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