The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has announced USD$41 million worth of concessional loans that the agency has made available for 6 projects in developing countries through a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). Mr Adnan Amin, director general of IRENA, used the opportunity to emphasise the instestment-worthy status that such projects have come to attain in recent years.
The six projects to be funded are all in remote regions in a range of countries spanning the globe: Ecuador, Mali, the Maldives, Mauritania, Samoa and Sierra Leone. “IRENA and ADFD selected projects to bring power to isolated off-grid populations, in some cases for the first time. This will stimulate local economic development and raise living standards,” Mr Amin said. The technologies used in the winning projects include small-scale hydro power, waste-to-energy and wind, plus a 4MW hybrid solar PV-diesel project in Mali and a 6MW grid-connect solar PV system in Sierra Leone.
He noted that “one of the myths about renewable energy projects is that there are not enough of them out there.” In fact, the number of renewable energy projects worldwide has increased dramatically as they become more competitive. In 2012, nearly half of new electricity generation capacity installed in 2012 used renewable technologies, according to a fact sheet (PDF) that IRENA has published about the growing competitiveness of renewable energy technology. The 6 projects selected for access to the loans were chosen from a pipeline of 82 worldwide and worth more than $800 million, with the number of applications expected for the next round “to be substantially higher”.
One of the main purposes of the recent loans, which will cover about half of the capital costs of the chosen projects, is to “help communities in developing countries achieve [the] highest levels of progress,” said H.E. Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, the Director-General of the ADFD. IRENA’s contributions were made in part to spur investment from the public and private sectors. The remaining 50% of each project will be financed by banks, international financial institutions and other development partners.