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From: Woochong Um, Director
Energy, Transport, and Water Division
Regional and Sustainable Development Department

Date: Nov 13, 2007 4:40 PM
Subject: Fw: 4 Questions to WEC members
To: geni

Dear Mr. Peter Meisen, 

Thank you for your e-mail to Vice President Greenwood. We have noted the points you raised regarding renewable energy and your campaign for a worldwide sharing of renewable energy sources through a global electricity grid.

ADB is not a member of the E-8, but as a multilateral development bank (MDB) in Asia and the Pacific region, we recognize that we have a crucial role to play in meeting the region's energy needs in a sustainable way. Promoting renewable energy and regional cooperation are certainly part of our effort to help the region tackle this complex challenge.

Along with rapid economic growth, Asia's electricity consumption has been rising, in many parts, outpacing economic growth. Energy security has become a major concern due to increasing dependence on fuel imports especially oil. Meanwhile, about 1 billion people or 27% of the region's population remains without access to electricity.

The need to sustain growth and further reduce poverty means that the region's electricity demand will continue to soar. According to the International Energy Agency, electricity generation in developing Asia will grow three-fold from current level to 12,165 terawatthour in 2030. Under a business-as-usual scenario, electricity generation will continue to be dominated by fossil fuels, notably coal which remains abundant and cheap compared to alternatives. Consequently, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to go up. Fossil fuel burning has already caused serious environmental problems at the national level and has driven up Asia's share in global CO2 emissions three-fold for the past 30 years.

Given these trends, it is critical for the region to shift to a more sustainable path. The region is rich in renewable energy sources and is already home to some of the world's leading renewable energy producers.  India is the fifth largest generator of wind power behind Germany, Spain, the United States and Denmark. The Philippines and Indonesia are major geothermal producers. China, India, Pakistan, and Viet Nam generate significant amounts of hydroelectric power. Asia is also reducing the traditional use of biomass as household fuels and instead using it to produce commercial forms of energy, e.g., cooking fuel from bio-gasifier and electricity from power plants. However, there is a limit to the reliability of power supply from renewable energy sources in a large scale.  Utilization of wind and solar power plants is dependent on climactic conditions, and hydropower on the rainfall and water flows. Biomass is an attractive option for meeting energy demand of rural regions, but it would not be able to meet the large industrial demand.

The Asian countries are giving a very high priority to addition of new power generation capacity that is based on renewable energy, and it helps displace fossil fuel-based power generation when the right conditions exist. The renewable resources, therefore, are expected to have an increasing share of energy supply, but it is also evident that a significant part of the region's electricity requirements cannot be satisfied through renewable energy alone in the immediate future. Nonetheless, by diversifying energy sources, they can improve energy security. They will also benefit the poor by reducing indoor pollution associated with traditional energy sources and increasing productivity. Moreover, they can reduce adverse environmental impacts and risks of climate change.

The future carbon constraint is also accelerating the research and deployment of cleaner coal-based power generation technologies, e.g., supercritical, ultra-supercritical and integrated gasification and combined cycle projects; both with and without carbon capture and storage. ADB will look ahead to deeper collaboration with member countries to help resolve the technology barriers and bring about an early commercialization of low- and zero-carbon emission power generation.

As Asia's partner in development, ADB has been working with our member countries to mainstream the application of renewable energy and other clean and energy efficient technologies.  We help fill gaps in financing, knowledge and capacity, and create enabling policy and regulatory frameworks.  Our recent efforts are encompassed by a comprehensive Clean Energy and Environment Program designed to facilitate the region's transition to a low carbon economy while addressing energy needs. The program is consistent with the Clean Energy Investment Framework for MDBs. Among its key components are:

  • The Energy Efficiency Initiative which aims to expand ADB's energy efficiency and renewable energy projects portfolio to $1 billion a year by 2008;
  • The Carbon Market Initiative which provides upfront financing and technical support to projects with greenhouse gas reduction benefits that can quality for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).  
  • The Energy for All Initiative which will give poor people in both rural and urban areas greater access to modern and cleaner forms of energy, in line with achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
In addition, ADB is actively promoting regional cooperation and integration. We have supported, for example, cross-border electricity transmission and export-oriented generation projects in the Greater Mekong Subregion. A roadmap for developing a regional energy market is being developed and a policy and institutional framework for power trade is being designed so as to lay the foundation for enhanced cooperation.

Lastly, we are soon to come up with an updated energy strategy to address the challenges we face and highlight our commitment to finding clean energy solutions.

We hope these answers will help you to understand ADB's activities.


Woochong Um
Energy, Transport, and Water Division
Regional and Sustainable Development Department

Updated: 2016/06/30

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