After the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the beach-filled paradise of Barbuda is about to go green in a major way.
The United Arab Emirates is joining with the CARICOM Development Fund and other partners to build a resilient green power system for Barbuda.
The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund will work with CDF, along with Antigua and Barbuda’s government and the government of New Zealand to restore power to the island.
“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,” said Sultan Al Shami, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates. “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.”
The agreement will see the disbursement of $5.7 million from the UAE to support Antigua and Barbuda through the largest renewable energy initiative of its kind in the Caribbean region.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda also invested $1 million through the CDF, and the Government of New Zealand donated $500,000 to aid in funding the project and building a hybrid solar-diesel power station equipped with hurricane-resilient battery storage.
“This project will be a core component of the efforts by our government to transform Barbuda into possibly the first truly climate-resilient community in our region and doing this within a sustainable energy framework,” said Robin Yearwood, Minister of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation, Transport and Energy for Antigua. “This will also serve as a model for other Caribbean small-island developing states.”
The project aims to build a modern, climate-resilient, safe, reliable and sustainable supply of electrical power for Barbuda in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which destroyed 95 percent of the island on Sept. 6, 2017, and forced all 1,800 residents to be evacuated to Antigua.
“As part of the second funding cycle of the UAE-CREF, this energy efficient and multi-faceted project on the island of Barbuda exemplifies the level of collaboration needed to ensure that renewable energy alternatives are spread far and wide to areas or states that can gain maximum benefit.,” said Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. “Caribbean island nations are rich in sustainable resources that are used to produce energy. ADFD is delighted to work alongside its distinguished partners to bring clean energy alternatives to the area and support the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in translating its national priorities into tangible realities.”
The plant will displace an estimated 260,000 liters of diesel fuel per year, saving the government of
Antigua and Barbuda $320,000 and offsetting 690 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.