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After more than half a decade of sporadic spending, the Asian Development Bank steadily increased its clean energy investments over the past four years. While experiencing inconsistent growth between 2003 and 2008, the bank’s clean energy budget increased from $1.31 billion in 2009 to $2.36 billion in 2012. In 2008, ADB set an annual target of $2 billion in clean energy investments by 2013, which it met two years ahead of schedule.

The upsurge in spending is largely attributed to the bank’s Clean Energy Program, which aims to support renewable energy in smaller developing member countries and facilitate the adoption of low-carbon technologies in Asia. Some of the program initiatives are: 

  • Energy for All Initiative — maximizes access to clean, affordable, modern energy for all, especially the rural poor.

  • Asia Solar Energy Initiative — identifies, develops and implements 3,000 megawatts of solar electricity generation by 2013.

  • Quantum Leap in Wind — develops country-specific road maps for the large-scale deployment of wind power, leading to an additional 1 gigawatt of installed wind energy capacity by 2015.

  • Small Wind Initiative — explores effective ways to utilize indigenous renewable energy resources to improve the living standards of poor communities in remote areas.

  • Low Carbon Technology Exchange — identifies partnerships between willing buyers and sellers of low-carbon technologies to facilitate transfer and diffusion in Asia and the Pacific.

  • Asia Climate Change and Clean Energy Venture Capital Initiative — supports equity investments in several venture capital funds that accelerate private sector-based innovation, transfer and diffusion of climate change technologies.

ADB’s growing clean energy investments are expected to address Asia’s disturbing levels of carbon emissions, which could reach 21 billion tons, or nearly half of the world’s output, by 2035. According to the 2013 Asian Development Outlook, the region will face an “environmental disaster” if it continues to rely heavily on traditional energy sources.

While Asia’s energy and climate challenges are significant, analysts see that the region is already addressing future climate-related concerns. It is currently the world’s leading clean energy investor. Based on a joint-report by the Frankfurt School of Financial Management and the U.N. Environment Program, Asian countries contributed 42 percent to the $244 billion total global renewable energy investment in 2012.

In support of Asia’s continuing transition to clean energy and the development of effective energy solutions, ADB and the U.S. Agency for International Development will hold the 8th Asia Clean Energy Forum on June 25-28, 2013, at the bank’s headquarters in Manila. Representatives of governments, energy companies, the academe and civil society will gather to share best practices in clean energy policy, technology and finance.

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About the author

  • Juan Carlos Concepcion

    Juan Carlos is a former analyst at the Devex Manila Office. A strong advocate of civic education, he also teaches undergraduate courses on Philippine politics and governance.