The Lighthouse Initiative: a partnership for the sustainable energy future of SIDS
SIDS are increasingly becoming pioneers in demonstrating what renewable energy can offer both socio-economically and environmentally. Many island nations have adopted ambitious targets and plans to promote renewable energy deployment. For instance, St Vincent and the Grenadines has embarked in a large geothermal project that will bring clean, reliable power to the whole country and increase the renewable energy mix in the grid to 75%, while reducing emissions by 53,000 tCO2 per year from avoided diesel consumption. A bioenergy grid-connected project in Samoa will bring clean energy to two islands of Upolu and Savaii. Antigua and Barbuda has launched a solar PV and wind project to generate renewable energy for desalination that will transform and build resilience in the water sector. These are just some examples of projects that will be partially funded by the IRENA Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Project Facility .
Photo credit: IRENA
To support these efforts and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future in SIDS, IRENA launched the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative at the Secretary-Generalís Climate Summit in New York in September 2014. The Initiative aims to mobilise USD 500 million in financing to support the development of renewable energy on SIDS. It also provides access to planning, policy and finance tools and services, as well as an information sharing network. So far, 29 SIDS from the Caribbean, Pacific, Africa, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea and 19 development partners have joined. Together, they have pledged to achieve more than 120MW of new renewable energy deployment by 2020. In less than two years, the Initiative has already made significant progress: 18 SIDS have developed roadmaps for renewable energy deployment, $150 million in development funds have been mobilized and 18 MW of renewable energy have been deployed.
To catalyse collective action of SIDS and partners around this agenda, a number of workshops were held in Martinique, Honolulu, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town in 2015. These workshops helped identify needs and challenges in terms of planning, implementation, and financing. An early outcome of this consultation process was the Martinique Action Plan, which set a clear agenda for next steps to address existing needs and to accelerate deployment of renewable energy in SIDS. This series of workshops culminated with a high level event during COP21 in Paris where SIDS and partners reinforced their commitment to further accelerate the renewable energy transition on islands. The sense of urgency and commitment felt in Paris was also palpable during a high level event in the margins of the IRENA 6th Assembly last January, where representatives of SIDS and partners got down to business and discussed the operationalization of the Paris outcomes into a credible and sustainable international action plan.