Clinton Climate Initiative

Islands Energy Program

Small island nations contribute the least to climate change yet are feeling the greatest impact of its consequences.

As climate change accelerates, small island nations will suffer a disproportionate share of the global consequences already occurring. Island nations are highly reliant on imported diesel and petroleum, which are not only major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions but are also some of the most expensive fuels in the world. Furthermore, island nations are at higher risk of being impacted by rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns, exacerbating negative effects on our ecosystems and agriculture. The Clinton Climate Initiative has partnered with governments of island nations to develop renewable energy projects that will reduce fossil fuel consumption and assist the transition to a low-carbon economy – with the goal of replicating and scaling this model to significantly reduce the impacts of climate change by creating resilient communities.

Creating Resilient Communities

Through its Islands Energy Program, the Clinton Climate Initiative is partnering with governments of island nations to implement sustainable energy solutions in order to reduce fossil fuel imports, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and create financial savings from environmentally sustainable developments.  Reducing reliance on diesel and petroleum imports is not only an environmental priority but an economic and development imperative. The cost of importing fuel, which in some cases is greater than 25 percent of global domestic product, contributes to high levels of national debt, trade imbalances, and scarcity of foreign exchange. The price of electricity in some island nations approaches US$1 per kilowatt-hour, which places a massive economic burden on families, businesses, and government, and deters both foreign and domestic investment.

Small island nations are typically rich in natural resources for renewable energy generation, creating ample opportunity for solar PV, geothermal, wind, biomass and waste-to-energy technologies, depending on the island. Additionally, the high cost of diesel-generated power means renewables are comparatively inexpensive, but despite the economic case for renewable energy generation, small island nations have thus far been unable to fully utilize their domestic energy resources for a range of reasons. The islands’ remote location, relatively small power requirements (typically 10-100 MW) and lack of clear policy and regulations regarding renewable independent power producers hinder private investment in the sector, and the governments of these small nations typically lack the capacity to build the policy, business, and technical plans required for government development of these resources. A range of international organizations, bilateral donors, and development finance institutions have funded various studies to promote renewable energy development in island nations and have created financing mechanisms to facilitate funding these projects. Only in limited cases, however, have these studies and funding sources resulted in significant development and projects implemented.

The Clinton Climate Initiative works with governments and utilities in the islands to overcome these barriers, developing and progressing bankable projects through feasibility analysis that demonstrates technical and economic viability. The Clinton Climate Initiative plays a critical role in providing the necessary financial, technical, regulatory, and policy planning advisory that supports island nations in designing intelligent energy solutions and accessing the funding to implement these solutions.

The goal of the Clinton Climate Initiative's work goes beyond project implementation to achieving lasting market transformation. With urgent implementation of these projects, small island nations have the potential to reshape their economic and environmental futures and initiate clean energy programs that can spur action worldwide. By identifying and removing market barriers and laying the groundwork for further government initiatives in the renewables sector, the work of the Islands Energy Program will spur additional private sector participation in the sector and improve the investment climate for sustainable infrastructure developments in their country and globally.