October 30, 2023, Uruguay - The Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF), approved its first three financial operations, providing US$ 1,000,000 in refundable financing for projects that drive the Second Energy Transition in Uruguay.
The Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF), supported by a US$ 10 million dollars grant from the United Nations Joint SDG Fund, adopts a public-private partnership approach to provide financing and technical assistance to innovative projects aimed at decarbonizing key sectors of the Uruguayan economy. REIF is an instrument that contributes to implementing Uruguay's energy policy, supported by the triple-impact financing that private commercial banks want to promote.
In this regard, the Minister of Industry, Energy, and Mining of Uruguay, Omar Paganini, stated:
REIF is a model that generates success and one we want to see multiplied. It aligns global and national objectives of decarbonization, with the objective of private businesses to survive, grow, and be profitable, all while targeting triple impact; environmental, social, and economic.
The Deputy Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Walter Verri, confirmed:
Following a successful first energy transition, mechanisms like REIF consolidate the country's mission to advance towards decarbonization, involving key stakeholders in the pursuit of a more sustainable Uruguay.
Having signed cooperation agreements with seven commercial banks in the country (representing over 80% of the relevant segment of the banking system), REIF sealed its first three financial operations, leveraging investments with Banque Heritage, Itaú Bank, and BBVA Bank, for electric mobility and energy efficiency transformation plans.
The approved projects include a car rental company that will acquire electric vehicles and chargers for subsequent rental, a roadside assistance company that will purchase lightweight electric trucks and chargers to replace part of its diesel fleet, and a hotel that will install an efficient water heating system with heat pumps. The total financing for these investment projects is 4 million dollars, of which 1 million represents REIF contribution. The investment committee, a team of experts formed to analyze and approve projects, based on triple impact criteria, is currently evaluating two other energy transformation projects with a contribution of US$ 1,150,000 from the REIF.
UNIDO is the leading United Nations agency in the implementation of the REIF. From that perspective, Manuel Albaladejo, Representative of UNIDO's office for the Southern Cone countries, argues that, "The REIF was envisaged to catalyze triple impact private financing and break with the traditional cooperation model that is no longer applicable to middle and high-income countries like Uruguay. It is a new way of creating public-private partnerships for development financing."
In 2020, the United Nations Joint SDG Fund selected the REIF project proposed by Uruguay from more than 150 submissions from various countries.
In light of this, Pablo Ruiz, the UN Resident Coordinator in Uruguay, pointed out after a press conference to announce the updates:
Uruguay is an important country for us. UN agencies consider it for experimental projects due to its strong institutional setting stability, and reputation as a serious country.
REIF is an initiative involving the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM), the Ministry of Environment (MA), the Office of Planning and Budget (OPP), and the National Administration of Power Plants and Electric Transmissions (UTE), financed by the Joint SDG Fund and implemented by United Nations Uruguay, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations agency for gender equality and the women's empowerment (UN Women), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.