Asia needs to develop its solar industry if economic growth in the region is to be maintained, according to the vice president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Xiaoyu Zhao. To instigate this growth, the ADB is planning to invest up to US$2.25 billion itself, and attract a further US$6.75 billion in private funding, that will be spent on a number of PV developments over the next two years.
Speaking at the third meeting of the Asia Solar Energy Forum in Bangkok on Monday, Zhao said, “Asia could account for half of global output, trade, and investment by 2050. To sustain its impressive growth momentum, Asia must manage its energy security and innovate away from the traditional, high-resource, high-carbon development path toward sustainable, low carbon growth.”
Currently, solar accounts for less than 0.25% of Asia’s energy portfolio, a figure the ADB aims to increase to 3-5% in the coming years. In order to achieve this ambitious expansion plan, the industry’s capacity will need to undergo a six-fold increase by 2013, thus taking its overall capacity past the 3GW mark.
If successful, the expansion plan will not only establish Asia as a leading market in the solar sector but also help provide affordable power to the near 900 million people in Asia with limited or no access to electricity.
“We are keen to see Asia-Pacific as the leader, and not the laggard, in solar energy development,” Zhao added. “The initiative is consolidating our efforts to take advantage of the wider adoption of solar technologies resulting from rapid technological advances, larger scales of production, and lower production costs.”
The last few years has seen the ADB divert increasing amounts of its funds into developing renewable energy – it has invested in excess of US$1 billion in the sector for the past three years – and the bank is already helping to finance the construction of two major solar projects in Thailand. Its support has proved vital on Natural Energy Development’s 73MW system in Lopburi and Bangchak Petroleum’s 38MW plant in Ayutthaya, which will both be operational in Q4. The bank is also supporting projects in China, India and the Philippines.