IRENA Launches SIDS Lighthouses Initiative 2.0
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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Participants at a High-level Roundtable discussed priority areas for the Lighthouses Initiative 2.0 with many underlining that investments and access to finance remain a major challenge.

Priority areas for the Lighthouses Initiative 2.0 include: supporting SIDS in implementation and review of their NDCs; including geothermal energy and energy from the ocean; and enhancing support for development of bankable projects.

Launched in 2014, the Lighthouses Initiative, which aims to support SIDS in scaling up renewable energy, achieved its 2020 targets for installed capacity in renewable energy and funding three years ahead of schedule.

28 September 2018: Leaders of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and development partners gathered at UN Headquarters for a High-Level Roundtable to discuss how to increase ambition to accelerate energy transformation in SIDS and to launch the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative 2.0. The initiative intends to strengthen cooperation on renewable energy, accelerate energy transformation in SIDS, strengthen climate resilience, and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

Initially launched at the 2014 UN Climate Summit, the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative was created to support SIDS in their process of scaling up renewable energy through partnerships across public institutions, the private sector, and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. Through coordination with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Lighthouses Initiative has led to a rapid growth in renewable energy for its members. For example, from 2014 to 2017 more than 250 MW of solar photovoltaic and over 50 MW of wind energy came online as an outcome of the Initiative resulting also in significant cost reductions.

The SIDS Lighthouses Initiative met its 2020 targets for installed capacity in renewable energy and funding three years ahead of schedule.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin commended SIDS governments for demonstrating, “tremendous leadership in harnessing their renewable energy potential and their strong political will to act.” In addition, the initial Lighthouses Initiative met its targets for 2020 three years ahead of schedule in terms of installed capacity and mobilizing funding. These are great successes for SIDS as they are more vulnerable to climate change effects when compared to other countries, he underlined.

Participants at the event discussed priority areas for the Lighthouses Initiative 2.0 with many underlining that investments and access to finance remain a major challenge. Renewables only account for 10% of total installed capacity in SIDS. Participants suggested that taking the energy transformation to the next level with renewable energy at the center would lead to sustainable job creation, fostering economic growth, and ensuring food and water security.

IRENA identified four priority areas for the Lighthouses Initiative 2.0: supporting SIDS in implementation and review of their nationally determined contributions; expanding the focus to include geothermal energy and energy from the ocean, as well as accelerating renewables in the transport sector; enhancing support for development of bankable projects; and reinforcing work on the nexus between energy, agriculture, food, health, and water.

Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, discussed the urgent need for action and their accomplishments made possible through the Lighthouses Initiative. Recently, the Marshall Islands has begun a new solar project in their second largest community and are hoping to bring similar projects to life. Currently their other island communities are 100% renewable energy and are seeking support from UAE to help bring three of their major sub-centers to at least 95% renewable energy by 2020. Heine urged that the energy transition process be inclusive taking into account gender and human rights.

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, spoke on limitations and progress. While three hydroelectricity plants in his country are being improved for efficiency and solar renewables are expanding, the major initiative focuses on geothermal energy. He noted that there is a two-year delay for the goal of 80% geothermal energy, but that his country is actively working with other organizations to meet this goal.

Aruba, the UAE, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) also participated in the Roundtable, speaking on issues ranging from project design, renewable targets, collapsible turbines, financial limitations, grant funding, and batteries. [IRENA Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources] [SIDS Lighthouses Initiative 2.0 High Level Roundtable on Increasing Ambition to Accelerate Energy Transformation in SIDS]

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