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Scaling Up Energy Efficiency in Asia: ADB's Take

Article | 18 June 2014

Energy demand in Asia and the Pacific is forecast to double over the next 20 years. ADB is helping countries in the region increase energy supply in a cost-effective and sustainable way by improving energy efficiency.

Driven by economic development and growing affluence, electricity demand in Asia and the Pacific is projected to more than double between 2010 and 2035, reaching 16,169.2 terawatt-hours in 2035. Unless an alternative approach is taken, meeting the region’s energy needs will require investments of about $11.7 trillion. Read the Energy Outlook for Asia and the Pacific for in-depth data and projections on energy use at the sub-region, country, and sector levels until 2035.

Augmenting generating capacity, however, is not the only way to increase supply - Energy efficiency also provides an answer to rising demand.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is considered as the least expensive means of increasing energy supply. A megawatt of power capacity saved through energy efficiency costs about half or less than adding a megawatt of coal-fired generating capacity.

Studies show that energy efficiency investments equivalent to 1%-4% of energy sector spending could meet as much as 25% of the projected increase in primary energy consumption in developing Asia by 2030.

ADB launched its Energy Efficiency Initiative in 2005 to expand its Clean Energy Program in the region. Since then, ADB has increased annual investments to at least $2 billion. In 2013, energy efficiency projects alone amounted to $853.5 million, accounting for 36.2% of total clean energy investments. These projects are expected to generate 1,987 gigawatt hours of electricity savings.

Low-hanging fruit of the energy mix

In 2013, ADB pledged an increased focus on energy efficiency projects going forward, in order to help developing Asian and Pacific countries take advantage of the “low-hanging fruit” of energy efficiency interventions.

“There is huge potential for saving energy by making buildings, vehicles, machinery, and water pumps more energy-efficient to the benefit of consumers and the environment, and the time is right for ADB to do more in this area,” said Bindu N. Lohani, ADB’s Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.

Demand-side energy efficiency entails the use of efficient equipment or behavioral change on the customer's side. It lowers energy consumption without compromising consumer comfort or the country's competitiveness.

ADB's energy experts Anthony J. Jude and Aiming Zhou fielded questions on accelerating demand-side energy efficiency in Asia during a live online chat. Read the transcript.

Working around the region

One of the projects mentioned at the live chat was the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project, which showcases the benefits of demand-side energy efficiency. The project improved energy use in the Philippines, through actions ranging from lighting retrofits of government buildings to the installation of 9 million compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) in the residential sector. Shifting to CFL will reduce the cost of energy production and oil imports in the Philippines, and help mitigate emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particular matter, and carbon dioxide.

The project estimates that using CFLs will save Filipinos 400 pesos, around $9.00, each year for the next 7 to 10 years. Read about how electric cooperatives were tapped to distribute CFLs in the country’s Visayas region.

In the Pacific, ADB has launched similar projects. It is helping Samoa switch to energy-efficient lighting and appliances and supporting the Fridge and Freezer Replacement Program in the Cook Islands.

In Southeast Asia, ADB is encouraging the private sector to develop and fund pioneering energy efficiency projects.

An innovative project in Tajikistan will help electrify more households and improve energy efficiency by financing “smart” green energy solutions. The project will provide microfinancing to households and small businesses so that they could install energy-efficient roofs and doors, double-glazed windows, insulated ceilings and floors, advanced water pumps, solar water heaters, and other energy-saving products. Learn more about the Access to Green Finance project.

For more information on ADB’s energy efficiency projects, visit the Clean Energy page.