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June 4, 2008

ADB to pour $1bn a year into `clean energy` projects

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to invest one billion dollars annually in "clean energy" projects as part of an effort to encourage their use, the Manila-based bank announced Tuesday.

The announcement was made by ADB vice-president for sustainable development Ursula Schafer-Preuss at a special forum sponsored by the ADB and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on finding cleaner energy sources for Asia.

"We launched our energy efficiency initiative about three years ago and set targets for increasing our investments in clean energy to one billion dollars per year starting 2008," she was quoted by AFP as saying at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

The ADB is also working to increase "access to energy for all," while promoting reforms such as transparent tariff rates, appropriate regulations and forming long-term policies, she said.

Among the projects to be financed by the new ADB investment is the installation and operation of energy efficient heating systems in China, Schafer-Preuss said.

ADB sources said an energy efficiency project in Guandong was also being considered by the board of the multilateral agency.

ADB senior energy specialist Sohail Hasnie said in the short-term, the investments would likely go to projects that boost energy efficiency. However, viable long-term projects such solar, wind or ocean wave power plants, are also being looked at.

Hasnie said the viability of "clean energy" projects largely depended on locations and power charges.

As an example, he said "the Philippines has high (power) tariffs so a lot of (renewable energy) projects would be viable here which would not be viable in Indonesia," which has low power tariffs.

Speaking at the same forum, various industry leaders said energy efficiency could be increased simply by adopting existing technologies instead of using new techniques.

Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia cited the success his city enjoyed by opening it up to pedestrians, bicycles and buses rather than building new highways or parking spaces for cars.

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