ADB to Help Asia Unleash Solar Power Potential

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to help Asia and the Pacific develop the know-how and capabilities to make solar energy a future large-scale power source.

A $2 million technical assistance grant will be used to establish the Asia Solar Energy Forum, a knowledge sharing and communication platform for sector stakeholders to exchange information on technologies and business models needed to accelerate and expand the use of solar power. Its work will include reporting on identification and structuring of solar electricity generation projects that could be scaled up for mainstream use in ADB's developing member countries.

"The technical assistance will promote the use of solar energy around the region resulting in more inclusive, low-carbon growth," said Naoki Sakai, Senior Climate Change Specialist in ADB’s South Asia Department.

Solar energy is one of the world’s fastest growing renewable power technologies but Asia and the Pacific has yet to really tap its natural advantages in the sector, which include plentiful sunlight, economies of scale, fast growing power demand, and availability of land with little alternative use. The forum will help stakeholders identify the best business models for mainstreaming solar power use in the region, and the financing mechanisms needed to develop the industry in the face of high capital costs.

"It will support technology transfers by matching domestic and foreign companies, help promote foreign direct investment in developing member countries, mobilize concessional funding for financially viable projects, and give the private sector access to developing country policymakers," Mr. Sakai said.

The technical assistance will support the development and operations of the forum for the first two years as an independent nonprofit organization, involving ADB, developing member governments, the private sector, research agencies, civil society groups, donors and other development partners. It will also fund a meeting in Tokyo to discuss specific measures to overcome barriers for solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and rooftop solar power projects, as well as off-grid and mini-grid projects using batteries which synergize electric vehicle development. This will include examining mechanisms which address high project and capital cost risks, to make them bankable.

The technical assistance is part of ADB's Asia Solar Energy Initiative, which seeks to support projects that will help Asia make the most of its potential to generate solar power. The initiative aims to generate 3,000 megawatts of solar power in ADB’s developing member countries by mid-2013.

The grant will come from the Asian Clean Energy Fund, under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility, established by the Government of Japan and administered by ADB. ADB is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in January 2012.