The UK government has announced a significant increase in funding to support renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa, as diplomats at the Katowice Summit in Poland attempt to break the latest negotiating stand-off over levels of climate finance.
The UK’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry is set to confirm that an extra £100 million is to be assigned to the Renewable Energy Performance Platform, providing support for up to 40 new renewable energy projects across Africa over the next five years.
The move triples the level of funding available through the scheme and is expected to leverage an additional £156 million of private finance.
The fund is expected to support developers of small-scale solar, wind, hydro and geothermal projects with a view to providing new or improved access to clean power for up to 2.4 million people a year.
The UK government said power produced from the new projects is expected to save around three million tonnes of carbon dioxide over their lifetime, compared to fossil fuel generation, delivering emissions savings equivalent to taking 800,000 cars off the road each year.
“At home we’re world leaders in cutting emissions while growing our economy and abroad we’re showing our international leadership by giving countries a helping hand to shift to greener, cleaner economies,” said Perry.
“This £100m will help communities harness the power of their natural resources to provide hundreds of thousands of people with electricity for the first time. Building these clean, reliable sources of energy will also create thousands of quality jobs in these growing green economies.”
The new investment builds on £48 million previously committed to the REPP scheme, which has already supported 18 renewable energy projects in a number of African countries.
For example, a hydropower project on the Nzoia River in Kenya has provided 290,000 people with energy and created 330 jobs, while solar power for 70,000 people in Kilosa, Tanzania has provided 6,000 people with access to electricity for the first time.
Similarly, mini grids in Nigeria are providing 72 rural villages with pay-as-you-go clean, reliable energy through the programme, creating 2,500 jobs during the construction phase and 430 permanent jobs.
The UK government said the latest funding commitment is part of the UK’s pledge to invest £5.8bn in international climate finance by 2020.
The past week has also seen further commitments from the UK to provide £15.6m to help countries vulnerable to climate change take part in the COP negotiations, £45m to the ‘Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions’ (NAMA) Facility, and an additional £1m for the Global Innovation Lab, which aims to help innovative climate finance proposals move more quickly to implementation and attract funding.
The pledges come as the annual negotiations have once again been characterised by on-going rows over the levels of climate finance provided by industrialised nations as part of the agreed commitment to deliver at least £100bn of funding each year from 2020.
An analysis released ahead of the talks revealed richer nations are still well short of the target, prompting delegations from developing countries to again step up calls for further funding and a clearer reporting regime to manage climate finance flows.