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COP15: US to promote renewable energy in developing countries

The United States has launched a US$350m ‘Renewables & Efficiency Deployment Initiative’ (Climate REDI) to accelerate deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developing countries at COP15 in Copenhagen.

Energy secretary Steven Chu announced the initiative at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen, as a measure to reduce GHG emissions, fight energy poverty and improve public health for women, children and other vulnerable populations in developing countries ‘Climate REDI’ includes technology programmes and funding needed to launch a renewable energy programme under the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund:

  1. The Solar & LED Energy Access Program will accelerate deployment of affordable solar home systems and LED lanterns to those without access to electricity. The programme will yield immediate economic and public health benefits by providing low-cost solar alternatives to expensive and polluting kerosene;
  2. The Super-efficient Equipment & Appliance Deployment Program will harness the market and convening power of MEF countries (Major Economies Forum on Energy & Climate) to improve efficiency for appliances traded throughout the world. A number of MEF countries have implemented incentive programmes for energy-efficient appliances, and co-ordinating incentives, standards and labelling systems can create economies of scale for these appliances;
  3. The Clean Energy Information Platform will establish an online platform for MEF countries to exchange technical resources, policy experience and the infrastructure to coordinate various activities in deploying clean and renewable energy technologies, and share this information with the world; and
  4. The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (S-REP), under the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund, will provide policy support and technical assistance to low-income countries developing national renewable energy strategies and underwrite additional capital costs associated with renewable energy investments. Funding through Climate REDI will accelerate the launch of S-REP.

Climate REDI is a quick-start initiative to complement the broader technology and finance mechanisms of an international climate agreement. It will promote dissemination of technologies through quality assurance to protect consumers in developing countries against sub-standard renewable energy products, and financing for scale-up of early-stage low-carbon products, to bring down costs and to remove barriers to deployment. It will also share information which enables all energy stakeholders to access state-of-the art information on technology and best practices.

The combined budget for these programmes is US$350 million over five years. Funding for the first three programmes will total US$100m - US$35m from the USA and the balance from Italy, Australia and other partners. Funding for the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program will total US$250m - US$50m from the USA and US$200m previously pledged from Britain, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

Climate REDI will coordinate with programmes in developing countries, such as the International Finance Corporation’s Lighting Africa initiative, TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives programme and the US DoE’s Lumina Project for the Solar & LED Program. The Clean Energy Information Platform builds on the OpenEI platform developed by DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program is an activity under the Climate Investment Funds, a multilateral trust fund housed at the World Bank.

President Obama launched the MEF in March, creating a dialogue among developed and emerging economies to combat climate change and promote clean  and renewable energy. At their July summit in Italy, MEF leaders launched a new Global Partnership on clean and renewable energy technologies.

The MEF countries have released ten ‘Technology Action Plans’ developed under the Global Partnership, which summarise mitigation potential of high-priority technologies, highlight best practice policies, and provide a menu of specific actions that countries can take individually and collectively to accelerate development and deployment of low-carbon and renewable energy solutions.

The 10 clean and renewable technology areas and lead countries are:

  1. Advanced vehicles (Canada)
  2. Bioenergy (Brazil and Italy)
  3. Building energy efficiency (United States)
  4. Carbon capture, use and storage (Australia and the UK)
  5. High-efficiency, low-emissions coal (India and Japan)
  6. Industrial energy efficiency (United States)
  7. Marine energy (France)
  8. Smart grid (Italy and Korea)
  9. Solar energy (Germany and Spain)
  10. Wind energy (Germany, Denmark and Spain)

Chu says he will host the first Clean Energy Ministerial for MEF and other countries in Washington next year, to drive the work forward and continue concrete action on global clean energy technology deployment.

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