The international renewable energy group IRENA announced the first six recipients of concessional loans for off grid renewable energy projects that are “ready for the shovel,” as Director General Adnan Z. Amin put it in a press conference yesterday. They will receive a combined $41 million from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).
Abu Dhabi has committed $350 million dollar in funding for renewable energy projects, which will be disbursed through the Fund. IRENA, a global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange, is responsible for selecting, through a rigorous process, projects that are worthy of said funding.
In order for a project to be eligible for such loans, they must secure 50 percent of their own funding either from government or private parties.
They also have to be “well prepared, feasible, and rapidly implementable,” said H.E. Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy, Poland.
“We chose the best of the best.”
The funds available to developing countries apply to projects implementing a variety of technologies (not just conventional wind and solar), and IRENA considered proposals from all continents.
Here’s a brief description of each of the six projects that received concessional loans for the first of seven funding cycles:
Ecuador: a 3MW hydropower project received a $5 million loan. It is expected to provide power to more than 7,000 people, as well as both educational and health facilities.
Maldives: a 2MW waste-to-energy and desalination project received $6 million in funding. In addition to producing 62 million liters of fresh drinking water, this model project will benefit over 120,000 people.
Mali: a 4MW hybrid solar and diesel plant will improve energy access for approximately 30 rural villages, help schools to grow, and provide homes, schools and health facilities with clean water and lighting. This project received $9 million in funding.
Mauritania: a 15MW wind energy project will provide power to four coastal communities. In addition to allowing fishermen to store their catch and helping isolated communities to access energy, the wind plants will generate energy for schools and health centers. This project received $5 million.
Samoa: a 3MW biomass gasification and biodiesel facility is expected to produce four million liters of biodiesel each year to replace expensive energy imports. The $7 million in ADFD funds will provide clean and sustainable energy to both homes and businesses.
Sierra Leone: $9 million was rewarded to a 6MW grid-connected solar PV project that will not only improve grid stability in a peri urban area, but also support the capital’s grid expansion.
After the press conference, we had an opportunity to chat with Gauri Singh, who is Director of Country Support and Partnerships at IRENA and Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
In an effort to better understand what IRENA does exactly, we asked Ms. Singh whether the organization is basically just a networking hub.
“I would say it’s more than that,” said Singh. “It’s more than that for two reasons,” she tells Green Prophet.
“One is that you need to bring people together on a specific cause or specific purpose. So it’s a network hub with the purpose of promoting renewable energy, and you can also say it’s a network hub that is expanding the awareness of real issues like what’s happening with technology, where are the costs going, because these are the people who need to know.”
“Also, IRENA,” she points out, “has a great membership. Normally in an international organization when you have such a large membership, they’re very reluctant to help and reach other to other countries. But here you find them so engaged.
“You’ll find the UAE will step up and say along with Germany we want to help the Pacific Islands and those countries for example.”
Lead image via IRENA