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ADB Grant to Support Increased Cross-Border Energy Trading in Central Asia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $4.5 million cluster regional technical assistance grant to support an increase in regional power trade in Central Asia Power System (CAPS) and explore potential reconnection of Turkmenistan to CAPS and its further expansion to Afghanistan.

“With increased regional power trade, countries will be able to meet local demand for power and supply surpluses to their neighbors,” said Director of Energy Division at ADB’s Central and West Asia Department Mr. Ashok Bhargava. He further added that this will improve regional energy security and reduce carbon footprints of meeting the regional power demand.

Power trade among Central Asian countries has declined dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. First in 2003, Turkmenistan disconnected from CAPS and then in 2009, Tajikistan was disconnected from CAPS. As a result, compared to 25,413 million kilowatt hour (kWh) traded in CAPS in 1990, the traded energy volume declined to 2,080 million kWh in 2016. This had caused widespread power outages notably in Tajikistan in winter and resulted in increased fossil fuel use by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in the summer mainly because hydropower surpluses from Tajikistan were not available to CAPS. Tajikistan has since reconnected to Uzbekistan and to CAPS in March 2018.

The TA cluster will include three key subprojects to introduce an energy data management (EDM) system to the Coordinating Dispatch Center (CDC) Energiya to enable a safe increase of energy flow within CAPS; update regional power sector masterplan to identify technical barriers to increased power flow and possible solutions to overcome these barriers; and expand CAPS to Afghanistan and potentially Turkmenistan and identify additional new markets to increase power trade.

“The Central Asian countries lack the institutional and technical capacity to optimally coordinate increased power trade, due to prevailing obsolete technologies and system forecast techniques that constraints real-time monitoring of new power system assets in the region and corresponding adjustments of power flows” said ADB Senior Energy Specialist Mr. Bouadokpheng Chansavat. In this regard, the CDC Energiya, which was established in 1960s to coordinate power flows in CAPS need urgent capacity development and technological upgrading.

The updating of the regional power sector master plan is timely since its completion in 2012 to take into account the newly completed power assets and evolved geopolitical situation in Central Asia.

In 2017, Afghanistan expressed interest to join CAPS as it already trades bilaterally with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This technical assistance grant will help assess Afghanistan’s electricity grid and ensure compatibility with CAPS. Options for connection of Turkmenistan back to CAPS will also be explored.

The technical assistance cost is $4.5 million, $1.5 million of which will be financed by ADB on a grant basis; $1 million by the Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund; $1 million by the Asian Clean Energy Fund; and $1 million by the High-Level Technology Fund. The governments will provide counterpart support in the form of staff, office space, and supplies and other in-kind contributions.

ADB has committed $7.1 billion in loans and $85.9 million in technical assistance grants to Uzbekistan since it joined the bank in 1995. In 2018, ADB committed four loans totaling $993 million to improve power generation efficiency, improve primary healthcare services, support horticulture-related farmers and businesses for fixed asset investments, and support ongoing reforms through better economic management in the country.

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IRENA and UN agree to jointly combat desertification through renewables

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photo: IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are joining forces to support climate adaptation and resilience and to implement UN Sustainable Development Goals through renewables.

In a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera and UNCCD’s Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw, the two organisations have agreed to  increase renewable energy capacity building and investment on the ground, get a better understanding of the land and renewable energy nexus and undertake joint outreach activities. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) which currently takes place in New Delhi, India.

“Today, renewable energy is the most effective climate action tool available. But renewables can play an important role in combating desertification and land degradation too”, said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “By signing today’s MoU, we intend to strengthen collaboration with the UN on country and regional support activities that accelerate renewables deployment as a component of a broader strategy to expand access to energy, foster sustainable development, biodiversity and climate resilience.”

Renewable energy is one of the solutions to restore land, as it can help conserve food or develop irrigation systems. There are a lot of areas for cooperation,” UNCCD’s Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said, adding that he expects renewable energy to be among the issues that could come up as a request from our Parties, in their efforts to halt and reverse land degradation.

Sustainable energy can stimulate land restoration and conservation efforts and improve the economic sustainability of projects undertaken. For example, renewables can electrify rural health centers, provide solutions in the agri-food sector and alleviate poverty through integrated rural community development projects. In regions like Africa and particularly the Sahel, additional bioenergy production through land restoration activities can generate further benefits by lightening the burden of energy in security while generating employment and income, thereby reducing poverty.

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ADB-Supported Solar Project in Cambodia Achieves Lowest-Ever Tariff in ASEAN

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The auction for 60 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity conducted by Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), Cambodia’s national electricity utility, has led to the lowest bid of 3.877 cents (US dollar) per kilowatt hour by Prime Road Alternative Company Limited. The project, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), drew 26 bidders, including several global companies, and has achieved the lowest power purchase tariff for a solar project so far recorded in Southeast Asia.

The 60 MW project is part of a 100 MW National Solar Park and is structured as a public–private partnership. EDC is providing the land and transmission access, while the private sector  will provide power generation capacity based on a long-term power purchase agreement with EDC. ADB served as the transaction advisor for the project, through the Office of Public–Private Partnerships, while also providing a sovereign loan blended with climate finance funds to finance the transmission line and substation for the solar park. The project preparation work was carried out by ADB with the support of the governments of Canada and Singapore.

“The record low prices show the power of competition. This is a new era for renewable energy development in Cambodia and the region, and particularly for solar power generation. This is good news for EDC and the people of Cambodia,” said the Director of ADB’s Office of Public–Private Partnerships Mr. Siddharta Shah. “We believe more governments in the region will adopt auction as a strategy to procure renewable energy generation capacity, and this structure and tariff will serve as a benchmark for future projects.”

“Expanding solar generation is aligned with the country’s goal of increasing access to affordable and reliable sources of electricity,” said ADB Principal Climate Change Specialist Mr. Pradeep Tharakan. “ADB, as a trusted development partner of the government, is working toward the long-term development of the energy sector in the country.”

ADB’s other ongoing support to the country’s energy sector includes financing for the expansion and strengthening of the national grid; the development of a comprehensive power development plan through 2040; and the piloting of innovative technologies, including energy storage systems.

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IEA and ASEAN: “Key strategic partners” in pursuit of Southeast Asia’s energy goals

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The 37th ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting in Bangkok, 4 September 2019 (Photograph: IEA)

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, took part in the 37th ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Bangkok on 4 September.

Dr Birol gave the opening presentation of the AMEM, discussing with Ministers the energy challenges facing ASEAN, as set out in the IEA’s forthcoming 2019 Southeast Asia Energy Outlook, and presenting the results of the IEA’s extensive work with ASEAN. As part of this, he highlighted the results of the IEA’s work in response to the ministerial mandates it received at the 2018 AMEM in Singapore, related to how the region can boost regional power trade, boost energy efficiency and speed up renewables integration.

ASEAN ministers released a Joint Ministerial Statement at the completion of the AMEM that expressed their “appreciation to the IEA Executive Director for contributing to stronger ASEAN-IEA institutional ties and advancing ASEAN energy priorities.” They confirmed that “the IEA is a key strategic partner to ASEAN in helping the region tackle its energy challenges across all fuels and all technologies”. Ministers also called for further “strengthening of the ASEAN-IEA partnership in 2019-2020, specifically through joint projects to increase regional power trade and renewables integration, enhance buildings energy efficiency, boost energy security and enhance energy data quality.”

On the margins of AMEM, Dr Birol met with ministers from various Southeast Asian countries, including three IEA Association countries (Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore) and the next AMEM chair, Viet Nam, to discuss the IEA’s engagement with the region and with the countries bilaterally.

While in Bangkok, Dr Birol also gave a special address at the ASEAN Energy Business Forum. His remarks focused on key global trends in energy markets and their implications for Southeast Asia.

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