Asian countries urged to take radical steps toward renewable energy
MANILA, Philippines—With an energy crisis looming, the Asian Development Bank is urgently pushing Asian nations, including the Philippines, to take “radical steps” to accelerate investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
In a speech at the 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) Wednesday, ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said that clean energy and a “green growth” paradigm must become the new “business as usual.”
“Clean energy has gone from being thought of as alternative energy to being embraced by mainstream thinking. Today, the concepts of green growth and a green economy, with clean energy at the heart of development, are being adopted widely, including the Asia and Pacific region,” Kuroda said.
“We are pleased to see that many developing Asian countries are now adopting a variety of clean energy initiatives. These will support a massive transition to inclusive growth and environmentally sustainable development… emissions will only continue to grow, unless swift and decisive action is taken to green Asia’s economies and promote inclusive growth,” he told the delegates.
To accelerate the transition to a clean energy regime, the ADB has launched the “Asia Climate Change and Clean Energy Venture Capital Initiative” in which it will inject $60 million into three venture capital funds that will provide early-stage financing support for new climate technology products.
“Our investment in these funds should leverage over $400 million from bilateral sources and institutional investors for promising start-ups. This early-stage support will help new low-carbon technologies become more competitive and affordable to the large consumer base in developing Asia,” Kuroda said.
An example of more direct support to technology is ADB’s Asia Solar Energy Initiative, which aims to help build a $9-billion, 3,000-megawatt portfolio of solar power in the region over the next three years.
“We are planning to establish the Asia Accelerated Solar Energy Development Fund to attract the needed investment. By providing an enabling environment for commercial lending and private investment in the solar energy market, we hope to encourage its rapid growth and bring solar energy nearer to grid parity,” Kuroda said.
The Manila-based multilateral lender’s support for technology transfer would also include the establishment of a pilot hub in the Philippines, to be known as the “Regional Center to Facilitate Climate Technology Investments in Asia and Pacific.”
“This pilot regional hub will address the issues of deploying climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation and attracting the necessary volume of financing that would enable Asia and the Pacific to shift to sustainable infrastructure development,” Kuroda said.
Last year, the ADB invested $1.76 billion in clean energy and is on track to meeting its goal of reaching $2 billion in investments annually starting 2013.
The increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects would address the region’s surging demand for energy given a strong economic growth and increasing population.
It is estimated that energy requirements in the region will double by 2030. If left unchecked, the lack of energy security may reverse the region’s hard-won gains in poverty reduction.
Continued reliance on fossil fuels will also increase the threat of climate change, thus affecting millions of Asia’s poor and vulnerable through increased natural disasters and shortages in food and water.
“Asians have more to lose from climate change than any other people. The climate fight will be won or lost by decisions made in this region,” Kuroda said. “An important key to lowering energy intensity is the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and transition to renewable energy.”