MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has boosted its technical assistance to scale up projects that provide the region's poor with better access to modern and reliable sources of clean energy.
An estimated 800 million people in developing Asia currently have no access to basic electricity services and some 1.8 billion people must rely on traditional biomass fuels to meet their cooking and heating needs.
"Access to modern and reliable energy services is essential for sustainable development," ADB Vice-President Ursula Schaefer-Preuss said after the bank's Board of Directors approved $2 million in technical assistance that will be used to develop and implement access to clean energy projects.
"Clean energy and having access to it transform lives by providing better delivery of education and health services, a cleaner and healthier environment, and improved opportunities for the poor, especially for women and children," Ms. Schaefer-Preuss added.
The technical assistance will contribute to the ongoing work of the "Energy for All Initiative," established in 2008 to increase ADB investment in access to energy. In 2009, ADB projects worth $418 million translated to about 243,600 new households connected to modern energy compared to the average of 169,200 between 2003 and 2008.
It will also support the "Energy for All Partnership," a regional platform launched by ADB last year which brings together financial institutions, the private sector, civil society and governments with the target of bringing power to 100 million people in Asia and the Pacific by 2015.
Jiwan Acharya, a climate change specialist with ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department, said the new technical assistance will initially focus on a few high-impact countries likely to include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
The assistance is financed by the Government of Japan's Asian Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility. Potential projects to be supported range from expanding access to piped natural gas among concentrations of urban poor to biogas development and rural electrification through micro-hydro, solar and small wind power.
The Energy for All Initiative was created in 2008 with initial assistance from the Government of the Netherlands and is consistent with ADB's new Energy Policy, which regards increasing access to energy for all as one of its main pillars.