African and small island nations get renewables boost at New York summit

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Two initiatives to boost renewable energy deployment in African and developing small island nations have been unveiled at the UN Climate Summit currently underway in New York this week.

Both initiatives are coordinated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The first, the African Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) initiative, aims to boost the use of renewable energy by the East Africa Power Pool and the Southern Africa Power Pool.

These two bodies were set up to oversee power system cooperation between their respective member states.

At the moment 80% of electricity in the two regions comes from gas, oil or coal, but the aim of the ACEC initiative is to reduce that dependence and boost the deployment of renewables from 12 to 40% by 2030.

“Cooperation on renewable energy deployment in the region would reduce generation costs by 4% and nearly triple electricity supply, transforming the current energy mix of a large portion of the African continent,” according to a statement published on the initiative.

At the summit, 19 ministers from Africa endorsed the initiative, which if delivered as planned would save 2,500 metric tonnes of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions.

The second scheme, the Small Island Developing States Lighthouse Initiative, pledges to mobilise US$500 million within five years to boost renewables, including 100MW of new solar PV capacity.

The Lighthouse Initiative, first introduced earlier this month at the UN Small Island Developing States Conference in Apia, Samoa, aims to help small islands which are disconnected from mainland electricity grids and vulnerable to fluctuations in the supply and cost of fossil fuels.

“These initiatives will help reduce emissions and contribute to improved health, wealth and opportunity, and a life of dignity for all,” said US Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is hosting the New York summit.

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