Renewable energies on islands

Project description

Project title: Renewable energies on islands – Supporting IRENA’s Global Renewable Energy Island Network (GREIN)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2014 to 2016


Small islands states are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The rising sea level and extreme meteorological events are having dramatic impacts. Coastal communities, atoll islands and low-lying delta regions of larger islands are at particular risk from storms and flooding.

Islands are dependent on imported fossil fuels for most of their electricity and transport energy needs. Due to their isolated situation and the absence of economies of scale for fuel imports, their energy costs are high and difficult to anticipate in the face of fluctuating oil prices. In the Caribbean, electricity prices are among the highest in the world, not least because the region relies on imported fossil fuels for more than 95 per cent of its energy use. Capital-intensive fuel imports therefore place a significant constraint on development and inhibit economic growth.

Despite the high potential of renewable energies on many islands, their share in the energy supply of most islands remains small. Political, administrative, technical and financial barriers currently hinder their wider use. For instance, there is a lack of:

  • development plans and regulatory frameworks to encourage investment in renewable energies
  • private sector participation
  • experience and expertise within the responsible agencies
  • exchanges of know-how and experience between relevant stakeholders to benefit from synergies.


Conditions have improved for efforts to increase the share of renewable energies in the energy supply of island states. The Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (GREIN) has been strengthened.


This project is being implemented jointly by GIZ and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in three regions: the western Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific. GREIN supports supraregional exchanges, IRENA is acting on the islands of Barbados and Kiribati, and GIZ works in Cape Verde and Vanuatu. The project focuses on power generation on the islands, while taking interactions with other sectors into account.


Roadmaps have been developed for Barbados and Kiribati, which will assist the respective governments and other actors in planning more effectively for potential renewable energies, costs, time-schedules and legal and administrative requirements.

In Cape Verde and Vanuatu, the energy authorities have received support in the implementation of their energy policies and action plans for an energy transition. In Cape Verde, the elaboration of a grid code and a framework plan for independent energy producers have established the preconditions for feeding a much higher proportion of renewables into the island grids. In Vanuatu, meanwhile, the national energy plan has been revised and studies have been completed on the electrification of remote islands. The findings make it possible to supply a greater part of the population with electricity while increasing the share of renewable energies.

The GREIN-network has become more attractive to its users and now provides access to recent technical studies on potential renewable sources. These include assessments of potentials, especially wind measurements, and studies on the use of renewables in the tourism-sector and for the desalination of sea water.