How can countries in the Asia and Pacific region accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency?
This was the question that the speakers attempted to answer in an interesting side event held in the last day of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development that took place at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, between 28 and 30 March 2018.
The event was co-organized by AIT, the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Environment, the United Nations Development Programme, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, while also relying on contributions from other key actors such as the NDC Partnership.
AIT kicked-off the event with a presentation on the work developed under the Climate Change Asia (CCA) initiative in capacity building on climate finance for stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific. In his presentation, Lyan Villacorta, Senior Programme Officer at AIT-RRC.AP, provided the current energy scenario in the region characterized by coal-dominated growth in energy supply and decreasing share of renewables in energy consumption, and outlined the challenges that lie ahead considering the projected increase in energy demand throughout the region moving towards 2030.
With this eye-opening presentation, he highlighted the need to transition to a new energy paradigm where users are fully aware of their energy consumption patterns, energy is consumed efficiently and produced predominantly from renewable sources. Lyan Villacorta also emphasized the central role of RE in addressing the region’s many energy related challenges, including the lack of energy access still faced by large proportions of the population in Small Island Developing States in the Pacific and sparsely populated countries where grid extension and connectivity is not possible.
The presentation ended with an inspiring story from the Marshall Islands, whereby William Reiher, a local entrepreneur that without much institutional support, launched a thriving sustainable energy business providing energy auditing services, supplies energy efficient appliances, and delivers training to local stakeholders and institutions in the country. In just over 5 years, William was able to expand his business to include solar PV installations and move beyond the Marshall Islands. Lyan Villacorta emphasized the need to foster these entrepreneurial initiatives in the region.
On a similar note, Thomas Chrometzka, Director Renewable Energy at GIZ, talked about the energy dilemmas faced in Southeast Asia that with its continuous economic and population growth, is driving increasing energy demand. This growing demand is currently being met by fossil fuel increments, undermining climate change mitigation efforts.
He stressed that the energy sector is still rather conventional, with many large actors and incumbents, that are slow to act and do not innovate. Thus, there is a need to foster a startup and entrepreneurial mentality in the region to develop out-of-the box solutions, such as using blockchain technology for solar PV deployment allowing, for example, peer-to-peer sharing and commercialisation of solar electricity among neighbours. He ended by presenting GIZ’s recent initiative “Energy Nexus” that aims to support sustainable energy incubators and create a community by bringing together tech innovators and key energy actors, including CEOs of large energy companies.
The event went on with more interesting presentations from the other organizers who, for almost two hours, showcased solutions to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region.