Sharing expertise, powering growth: Asia Clean Energy Forum

Posted on 20 May 2014

The WEC is supporting the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) next month. The ADB’s Anthony Jude talks about how the collaboration could foster knowledge for powering growth in the region.

 

What does this year’s ACEF aim to achieve?  ETS_0623

Asia promises to be a global clean energy investment hub. Investments have been growing exponentially over the past decade, but in order for investments to continue to grow the region needs to keep on revisiting its institutional frameworks and strategies.

ADB and its development partners designed the ACEF for that purpose. For the past seven years this annual flagship ADB event has been seeking to fill knowledge gaps in energy policy, regulation, finance, investment, energy access, and technology.

For the first time, ACEF will this year also co-host a ministerial dialogue with the WEC. This will bring together high-level government officials to tackle policy barriers to the deployment of clean energy solutions. The lessons we learn through this will assist our developing member countries in devising national strategies for the deployment of clean energy.

 

What does the ADB hope to achieve by partnering with the WEC? 

The theme of this year’s ACEF is “connecting the policy, technology, and finance communities”. This has a multifold meaning.

We found that developing member countries are very willing to deploy clean energy solutions. It is just a matter of how to do it.

For instance, clean energy technology is available, but choosing the right technologies to fit local needs can be confusing with all of the choices available out there. Thus, only by sharing knowledge and expertise can we realise the “how”.

This is we envision the WEC can provide invaluable assistance. With a network that spans over 90 countries, and with a programme that fosters knowledge exchange across regions, the WEC’s agenda and goals are very much in line with our own.

To that end, we are thrilled to collaborate with the WEC in hosting this year’s ACEF at our headquarters in Manila, along with the US Agency for International Development.

We envision our collaboration with the WEC in the Forum to be the beginning, and hope to continue partnering with the WEC in future.

 

What is the development finance situation in Asia for energy projects? Asia Thailand

There is adequate financing for energy projects.  While global clean energy investments declined by 11% to $254 million in 2013 and the additions to renewable generation capacity also declined, renewable energy investment in the Asia Pacific region continued to grow steadily, increasing by 10% in the same year.

Governments within the region need to be serious about climate change and its impacts on their respective countries.  Governments also need to mobilise their pension funds to fund clean energy projects in their own markets. On a macro level, there are enough savings in the region to meet capital requirements, but there is no intermediation. Without very developed markets for using that capital for productive gain, Asia looks to the US and Europe markets to satisfy capital needs. ADB is currently working to address this situation.

 

What does the ADB consider as clean energy and does this inform the ACEF discussions?

Our position on clean energy is multi-pronged. We support what some call ‘traditional’ clean energy solutions by seeking to increase renewable energy, regional energy efficiency programmes such as uniform labeling standards for appliances, and improving modern energy access for poor and remote regions through decentralised systems. We support this in the context of our overall vision of achieving a region free of poverty, which in turn supports Asia’s development goals.

Our Asia Energy Outlook has forecasted for coal and natural gas consumption to rise over the next couple of decades. It is far from ideal. Nevertheless, these resources are abundant and available in some developing member countries.

Therefore we have included carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in the ACEF agenda in the past, and we have included natural gas in this year’s Forum, to support the adoption of technologies that would ensure natural gas is burned as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

 

ADB was at the World Energy Congress last year and held talks with other development banks and sector leaders.  What were your key takeaways?

It was the first WEC meeting that I attended and there were a lot of discussions on the “energy trilemma”.

The importance of energy access cannot be overstated and this is not new to ADB. We have been working on energy access projects for the last 30 years or so through rural electrification programmes. This has been more important in the context of using decentralised solar, wind, and biomass in remote areas. During the ACEF we will officially launch the Asia Pacific regional hub for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative with the United Nations.

There were also discussions on subsidies and how this has distorted the energy markets in Asia.  There is a need for governments in developing Asia to address this issue, although there have been efforts in Malaysia, Indonesia and India to address it.

 

Anthony J. Jude is Senior Advisor and Practice Leader for Energy at the Regional and Sustainable Development Department of the Asian Development Bank.

 Asia Clean Energy Forum will take place in Manila, Philippines, from 16 to 20 June, with the WEC Asia regional meeting to be held on the 18th. Find out more and register on www.asiacleanenergyforum.org