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Islands Empowered by Renewable Energy


Leaders gathered for the Third Small Islands Developing States Conference in Apia, Samoa on 1-4 September. (Photograph: IISD)

The world’s small island developing states (SIDS) have rallied behind renewable energy as a means to cut their fuel bills as well as help to ward off devastating climate change. At the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, leaders and policy makers from the Pacific, the Caribbean and other island regions reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation on the energy transition to ensure a sustainable future.

Renewable energy and how to accelerate its deployment on islands were prominent themes throughout the discussions in Apia, Samoa, which highlighted strategies for advancing sustainable development for SIDS. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presented research and analysis underlining the viability, cost-effectiveness and socio-economic benefits of renewable power, heating/cooling and (increasingly) transport solutions for islands.


Samoa: A wind turbine being lowered to anti-cyclone mode

Samoa’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, inaugurated a new wind power site on 29 August, featuring innovative retractable turbines to withstand serious tropical storms. The facility, with initial power-generating capacity of 550 kilowatts from two turbines and room to expand to 10 turbines, has been developed with support from the United Arab Emirates.

On the eve of the 1-4 September conference, IRENA co-organised the one-day Renewable Energy Forum with the governments of Samoa and New Zealand, producing A Path to Prosperity: Renewable energy for islands, a booklet of case studies submitted by SIDS and development partners. The intergovernmental agency also released a report on island tourism applications and a package of work on ocean energy technologies.

The World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) made a commitment with IRENA to promote renewable energy use on islands. UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai (at left in photograph) and IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin signed a joint statement on 2 September paving the way for cooperation with hotels and tourism authorities to encourage investments in solutions like solar water heaters and sea-water air conditioners, along with renewable power generation.


The World Tourism Organization and IRENA call on hotels to use renewable energy

“Investment by island hotels is vital to demonstrating the business case for renewable energy, which is essential to addressing the burden of costly fossil fuels that inhibits islands’ economic and social development,” said Mr. Amin. (See UNWTO-IRENA press release.)


Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Andrew Jacobs, Head, EU Delegation to the Pacific; and Elizabeth Thompson, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), share a moment before the opening of the Partnerships Dialogue on Sustainable Energy. (Photograph: IISD)


Panel (L-R): Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC; Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility; Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General, IRENA; Andrew Jacobs, Head, EU Delegation to the Pacific; Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN in New York; Secretariat; Moderator Elizabeth Thompson, Senior Advisor, SE4ALL; and Zaheer Allam, Australian Urban Design Research Centre (Photograph: IISD)

Latest News

  • 2 Sep 2014

    IRENA and UNWTO to Promote Renewable Energy in Islands Tourism Sector

    IRENA and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have joined forces to promote renewable energy use on islands. In a joint statement at the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, they resolved to encourage investment in cost-effective solutions that would reduce islands? reliance on carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

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  • 24 July 2014

    Sustainable bioenergy for Southeast Asia

    Bioenergy technologies can transform rural development across Southeast Asia, extending modern electricity services and reducing carbon emissions. But countries must address a complex array of policy, technical, institutional and financial challenges.

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  • 12 May 2014

    Clean Energy Solutions Center, IRENA Partner to Support Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network

    The Clean Energy Solutions Center, an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, and the International Renewable Energy Agency have formalized a collaboration that will help accelerate the global deployment of renewable energy. The jointly-led Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN) will leverage both organizations? resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs.

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  • 5 May 2014

    IRENA Initiatives Against Climate Change Receive Widespread Support

    The International Renewable Energy Agency has received widespread support for two action-oriented initiatives, Africa Clean Energy Corridor and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) ? Lighthouses, the Agency presented at Abu Dhabi Ascent, the preparatory meeting for the UN Climate Summit this September in New York.

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  • 24 February 2014

    IRENA Expands Permanent Representation

    The International Renewable Energy Agency has gained several additional permanent diplomatic representatives in a succession of ceremonies taking place over the last several days at the Agency?s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

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  • 23 January 2014

    IRENA Showcases Sustainable Energy Future

    The International Renewable Energy Agency wrapped up a week of high-level meetings and deliberations in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, further strengthening the international commitment to a sustainable energy future.

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  • 19 January 2014

    IRENA and ADFD Bring Power to Rural Communities

    The International Renewable Energy Agency and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) today announced approximately $41 million in concessional loans for renewable energy projects in developing countries.

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More News



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A Path to Prosperity: Renewable energy for islands

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West African Power Pool: Planning and Prospects for Renewable Energy

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Renewables Readiness Assessment 2012
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The Africa Clean Energy Corridor initiative aims at accelerating expansion of renewable electricity production in Africa

IRENA Scholarship Programme

In an effort to promote talented academics, and with the generous support of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, IRENA awards up to 20 scholarships annually for students taking up a MSc study programme at the Abu Dhabi based MASDAR Institute of Science and Technology. IRENA Scholars are entitled to attend monthly lectures on renewable energy policies, technologies and trends. If you want to read more, please click here.

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