by Marlon Madden
There is a need for more flexible, long-term financing options to help small island developing states make the energy transition. This was highlighted on Tuesday, during day two of the Island Finance Forum 2022, hosted by Island Innovation.
Speaking on the topic It’s Not Easy Being Green: Islands and Financing the Green Energy Transition, Senior Advisor at GET Invest Ilham Talab said there were opportunities for expansion of renewable energy in several sectors.
However, she stressed the need for long-term financial and technical support for such projects to be successful.
She said the disconnect between those who have the money and those who need it was still too pronounced and this was resulting in several bankable projects not getting started.
“To create scale, we need to leverage patient and long-term capital, and eventually, more private capital. This is where we come in at GET Invest,” she said.
GET Invest, which is currently involved in renewable energy investments in Barbados and other Caribbean islands, is a European programme that provides a bridge between those with finance and those in need of low-cost financing for green projects in developing countries.
Talab noted that despite the challenges of small island developing states, which include limited economies of scale and scarce resources, the opportunities
were copious across several sectors.
“We still see some opportunities beyond generating power for electrification. This for example, includes the construction sector where there could be a lot of savings given the high fuel prices in the islands. The agricultural sector as well, generating more food security and productivity and also income for the farmers that spend a lot of money on these diesel pumps that most of the time don’t work.
“Of course, there is the transportation sector that does not only include the inland but also water-based transportation sector. Ports could become more
efficient all the way to becoming hybrid and then eventually becoming electric,” said Talab.
Suggesting that countries and individuals were keen on investing in the energy transition across the various sectors, she insisted that there was still too much of a disconnect with the required financing.
“What we see could help generally the sector moving forward I would say definitely is very flexible and patient technical assistance programmes . . . Partnership is
very important also with the public sector. We understand that in a lot of the islands most of the projects are originated within the public sector so we can definitely work with them towards eventually having a private developer that takes it on, in terms of sustainable implementation,” she said.
She also noted that the transition will require people to “think outside the box in trying to find solutions”, adding that while it was not easy to make the transition to renewable forms of energy it was important for individuals and companies to reach out to firms such as GET Invest, who offer technical and other support.