The Philippines stands to benefit from ADB solar energy initiative

The Philippines stands to benefit from the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Solar Energy Initiative (ASEI), which aims to help build an impressive $9-billion, 3,000-megawatt portfolio of solar power in the region over the next three years.

According to the recent ASEI primer released by the ADB, the Manila-based lender reiterated intentions of including the Philippines on the list of countries where potential projects might be implemented next year, the second year of the program.

“The Philippines has in place some manufacturing capacity for solar panels and (there are) plans to use this to develop solar energy power generation, which has been identified as a future objective,” the ADB said.

To assist the Philippines, the Clean Technology Fund had allocated $400 million as early as November 2009 for the project (Investment Plan for Philippines), which was envisioned to include 100 MW of solar power generation.

Launched in May last year, the ASEI would make available a range of projects and knowledge sharing mechanisms to attract other development banks, commercial banks and the private sector to invest in these projects.

In addition to direct financing, ASEI would set a target of raising $500 million from donor countries to bring down the high up-front capital costs of investing in solar energy and design other innovative ways to attract private sector investment.

Based on the objectives of the ASEI, solar capacity in the Asia-Pacific region was expected to reach 1,000 MW by the end of 2011 and 3,000 megawatts by the end of its third year in May 2013.

“Today, Asia and the Pacific is characterized by very high rates of economic growth, far outpacing the global average, and continuing population growth. These two factors pose a formidable challenge to ensuring access to adequate and clean energy supplies at affordable prices, especially for the region’s national governments to meet their economies’ ever-increasing energy demands,” the ADB primer stated.

“These growing pressures, coupled with climate change and energy security considerations, are now driving the region to recognize and to promote national policies for solar energy applications amid the rapid decline in solar energy generation costs,” it explained.

Fortunately, large parts of Asia and the Pacific were said to be endowed with high levels of solar insolation and have significant solar energy generation potential for both large-scale grid and off-grid applications.

“As a decentralized form of energy, solar energy holds promise in providing power to the millions of people in the region with no access to traditional energy supplies. As an added and perhaps more important benefit, rapid and sustainable development of solar energy applications in the region is key to accelerating solar energy’s global march to achieving grid parity,” the ADB added.

An ADB study projected that energy demand for Asia and the Pacific would grow by an average of 2.4 percent until 2030, more than double the world’s average over the same period.

One of the biggest challenges confronting policymakers in the region is how to provide adequate, affordable access to clean energy for a large, growing population. Added to this are issues of energy security and pricing, especially for the poorest, as well as energy delivery, especially across diverse terrain and climate conditions, according to the ADB.

“These struggles present vast opportunities for solar energy development in the region. Solar energy also offers substantial solutions to help address the energy challenges confronting Asia and the Pacific,” the ADB said.


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