Innovation is Key to a...

ADB President Takehiko Nakao

MANILA: Technology and innovation can play a significant role in Asia and the Pacific’s push towards a low-carbon energy future, with the potential to provide countries in the region with universal access to cleaner and more affordable energy sources, according to participants of an international forum held at Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters.

Co-hosted by ADB, the United States Agency for International Development, the Korea Energy Agency, and the ADB Institute, the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2018 is being held from 4–8 June under the theme “Harnessing Innovation to Power the Future.” It brings together over 1,000 participants from more than 50 countries, including entrepreneurs, policymakers, financial institutions, NGOs, and academia. ACEF began in 2006 as an annual event to provide a platform for collaboration in promoting clean energy in Asia and the Pacific.

Some of the topics being discussed during the week-long event include future energy innovations such as energy in buildings, renewable energy in urban settings, decentralized power grids, health and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, clean cooking, new business models, and digital transformation and innovations.

Among the notable speakers are International Energy Agency, Chief Economist Laszlo Varro, Co-founder of the Grameen Bank and Founder and Chairman of the Bright Green Energy Foundation Dipal Chandra Barua, and Founder and Director of Costa Rica Limpia Monica Araya.

“New technologies such as smart grids, large-scale battery energy storage, renewable energy-based microgrids with storage, waste-to-energy, carbon capture and storage, and artificial intelligence have huge potentials to accelerate the clean energy transformation,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “But technology by itself is not enough. Projects with advanced technologies must be accompanied by viable business models, stable regulation, and smart policies to deploy the technologies.”

Despite Asia and the Pacific’s rapid growth over the past few decades, there remain large development challenges. In the energy sector, 440 million people still lack access to electricity in developing Asia. Securing energy access for these people, most of whom live in remote rural areas and islands, will depend on innovative technologies.

To showcase creative solutions to these challenges and promote the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs, ADB launched in 2017 the New Energy Leaders Program. During the opening plenary of ACEF 2018, seven New Energy Leaders received awards for 2018 for their work in businesses ranging from off-grid power solutions to large-scale wind and solar, energy efficiency, and digital customer solutions using big data and analytics.

Support for clean energy forms a cornerstone of ADB’s efforts to combat climate change. Clean energy offers a win-win solution of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions while meeting developing Asia’s need for new and expanded energy sources. In 2017, ADB invested over $2 billion in climate mitigation finance in energy. Together with contributions from other sectors, ADB is on track toward doubling annual climate finance to $6 billion by 2020, out of which $4 billion will be for mitigation.

In Sri Lanka, ADB is providing $200 million for a 100-megawatt wind power generation project—the first ever large-scale wind power project in the country. In the Philippines, ADB provided technical assistance and grant funds for a solar-diesel mini-grid to provide 24-hour access to electricity on Cobrador Island. In the People’s Republic of China, ADB provided $250 million in loans to a joint venture of Chinese and Icelandic companies to expand district heating services based on geothermal technology.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.

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