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Exclusive Interview | IRENA | Renewable Energy Project Finance


Exclusive interview with Seleha Lockwood, Programme Manager, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an African Utility Week event partner.


“Accessing funding for replicable, scalable and transformative renewable energy projects through the IRENA/ADFD Facility.” 


Ms Lockwood will address the Finance & Investment conference on the IRENA/ADFD Facility, while IRENA is also hosting a briefing on “Advice for accessing the IRENA/ADFD Facility final funding cycle offer for your renewable energy project”.


Let’s start with some background on IRENA, there is already a proud history there.
IRENA was established in 2011 and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates as the first international intergovernmental organisation dedicated to promoting the deployment and scale up of renewable energy globally. It has already become an internationally recognised knowledge source and hub for partnerships in the promotion and enabling of the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, for the transformation of the global energy system and the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low carbon economic growth and prosperity.


The partnership that IRENA has had with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) since the end of 2012 exemplifies the way IRENA can work with other institutions to strengthen international cooperation on renewable energy deployment and achieving sustainable development. IRENA’s role within the IRENA/ADFD Facility is to be an international platform for project proponents from developing countries who are IRENA members, to seek funding.


IRENA pre-screens these projects and recommends them to ADFD where there is a good fit between the type of funding needed and ADFD requirements. IRENA has an independent role as facilitator for project support, whilst ADFD is the funder.


Through the partnership, the ADFD loan rates have been reduced to 1% for low income countries and 2% for middle income countries for a 20-year loan period including 5-year grace period to cover up to 50% of the projects costs. The rest of the funding can come from government, the private sector, development funds or any other source.


What does your role entail?
I manage the IRENA and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development partnership known as the IRENA/ADFD Facility. Through this Facility, ADFD committed concessional loans worth $350 million over seven annual funding cycles to renewable energy projects recommended by IRENA. My role entails managing the selection and evaluation of projects through an independent global panel of experts so that replicable, scalable and transformative renewable energy projects are selected for funding in developing countries helping to achieve sustainable development.


What projects that IRENA is currently involved in are you most excited about? How is this changing people’s lives?

I am most excited by the work that we are doing on the IRENA/ADFD Facility as we enter the final seventh annual funding cycle of the Facility. Since the first funding cycle, 21 projects have been selected for funding in 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific.


These include Argentina, Cuba, Mali, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Seychelles, Argentina, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Niger and most recently in Mauritius and Rwanda. Six of these projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with construction already having started for three of them. Ten loan agreements have been signed which means that tendering and procurement activities can go ahead for all these which will help them to advance ahead.


$214 million has been allocated to these 21 projects from the ADFD with $420 million being attracted from other sources to cover the rest of the project costs. The sources have been government, the private sector and other development funds.


120MW of new renewable energy capacity will come online as a result of the implementation of these projects that include hydro projects (20MW one in the Solomon Islands) with co-funding from the Green Climate Fund to 1MW mini-grid solar PV and wind projects, geothermal and waste- to energy projects.


These projects will improve energy access and benefit over 3.5 million people including households and small businesses in 20 countries.


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